Now, Mani sets cat among pigeons

By Sanu George, IANS,

Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala politics, in a constant state of churning, have got more embroiled with Kerala Congress-Mani chief K.M. Mani suggesting that there were no permanent allies in coalition politics.

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Issues have been simmering within the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition and its allies with the Kerala Congress-Mani upset with the manner in which the Congress is treating it at the national level.

The party has two seats in parliament and its chief and state Finance Minister K.M. Mani did his best to see that his son Jose K. Mani, who represents Kottayam in the Lok Sabha, was made a minister of state at last October’s cabinet reshuffle. But he failed.

Since then, Mani has been expressing displeasure and fired his salvo during a TV interview last week.

Following this came an unexpected call from CPI-M leader V.S. Achuthanandan, saying Mani would be welcome if he decided to dump the UDF and join the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

“I’ll not stand against him if he decides to come over to the LDF,” Achuthanandan said.

Chief Minister Oomen Chandy immediately intervened.

“Not a leaf will move from the UDF. No one can wean away anyone from the UDF. We are comfortable,” said Chandy.

Thereafter, CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said that irrespective of who said what, no decision on Mani had been taken.

“Our party has not even thought about it or discussed about what Mani’s thoughts are. This is not in front of us now,” Vijayan said. Vijayan and Achuthanandan are not exactly on the same page and often take potshots at each other.

Mani reacted by stating that all he said was that coalition politics was not a closed compartment.

“Just because I said that does not mean my party is going to leave the UDF,” he said.

But sources close to the UDF said Mani was putting pressure on the coalition and testing the waters ahead of the 2014 general elections in a bid to secure two seats for his party.

“Today, his party also includes the majority faction of the erstwhile Kerala Congress-Joseph and since they will seek one seat, Mani is trying to put pressure in advance with a message that if his party does not get two seats to contest, he will look elsewhere,” a UDF leader told IANS, not wanting to be named.

As for the CPI-M, all eyes are on its party meet later this month when a decision is likely to be taken on frequent demands from the Vijayan faction that Achuthanandan be shown the door for his regular anti-party stance.

(Sanu George can be contacted at [email protected])