Kerala Congress-Mani announces support to UDF candidate

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Kottayam (Kerala), May 22 (IANS) The Congress-led UDF on Tuesday heaved a sigh of relief as ‘estranged’ former ally Kerala Congress-Mani announced support to Congress candidate in the May 28 Chengannur Assembly by-election.

“Our party decided to support the UDF candidate. We will make our stand clear at a public meeting at Chenagnnur on Thursday. The decision to support the UDF is for the bypoll only and to protest anti-farmer policy of the Pinarayi Vijayan government,” party supremo K.M. Mani told the media here.

Mani’s decision came after former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, state Congress President M.M. Hassan, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and P.K. Kunhalikutty, the Lok Sabha member of Indian Union Muslim League, held a meeting with Mani at his residence on Monday.

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Mani’s party has a support base of around 5,000 voters in the constituency.

Last year, Mani’s party severed ties with the United Democratic Front after four decades. His party’s six legislators sit as a separate block in the Assembly.

The CPI-M too was wooing Mani to join the Left Democratic Front, but the CPI was opposing it.

“This decision will not affect our candidate’s prospects. Even though Mani’s party has decided to support the UDF, we are sure we will get the votes of his party men,” Communist Party of India-Marxist State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters.

CPI-M legislator K.K. Ramachandran Nair’s death in January necessitated the by-election. Counting of votes will take place on May 31.

BJP’s P. Sreedharan Pillai, CPI-M’s Alappuzha District Secretary Saji Cherian and Congress’ D. Vijayakumar are in the fray.

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