Kerala Congress-J splits, to leave Left Front


Kottayam (Kerala) : The Kerala Congress-Joseph (KC-J) split Friday, with the majority group deciding to part ways with the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the party’s nominee in the cabinet, PWD Minister P.J.Joseph, announcing his decision to resign.

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Announcing this decision, Joseph said he has faxed his resignation to Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan and sought a meeting with him Saturday.

“There have been some differences of opinion in the way the Left government is going ahead with its policies towards the minorities in the education sector. The rank and file of my party has been not happy with the stand and hence we have decided to leave the LDF,” Joseph said.

The decision was taken at a meeting, attended by three of the party’s four legislators and a large number of its activists. It was also decided to merge the party with Kerala Congress-Mani, a constituent of the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

Earlier in the day, a section of the KC-J removed Joseph as the party chief and appointed former MP P.C.Thomas in his place. V.Surendran Pillai, the party’s fourth legislator, was present and has thrown his lot with Thomas.

“After enjoying power for four years and now knowing that the situation is unfavourable for the ruling Left, the faction led by Joseph decided to move towards the UDF, for reasons quite obvious. Joseph has succumbed to the pressures of the other two legislators and some senior leaders of his faction,” Thomas said.

Meanwhile, the Congress criticised its ally KC-M for deciding to merge the KC-J without discussing the matter.

“KC-M never informed us of this development. The unanimous opinion that came out at our meeting today was that this issue has to be discussed in the UDF because for nearly three decades, the KC-J has been with the LDF,” Congress state chief Ramesh Chennithala told reporters, adding that the UDF had been fighting the KC-J’s “deeds”.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan termed Joseph’s act as “cheating” and sought he be immediately dropped.

“We are all surprised because the reason given by Joseph to leave the LDF was that they had difference of opinion in the educational policies. Till date that party has not spoken a word about their unhappiness in the education sector,” he said, adding that he had read in the papers that the church wanted Joseph to leave the LDF.

Vijayan said that he heard the Congress was also disinclined to entertain Joseph but termed it a “double game” by the party.

Meanwhile, Achuthanandan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that he is yet to hear from Joseph, but has decided to oust him from the cabinet.

“The action of Joseph is not acceptable and it is cheating. Sitting in the cabinet, he was talking to other parties. He will be ousted,” he said.

This is the second time Joseph is resigning from the Achuthanandan government.

He quit the cabinet Sep 4, 2006, after allegations that he misbehaved with a woman during a flight from Chennai to Kochi. However, he was re-inducted on Aug 17 last year after being cleared in that case.