Am not in LDF, will join Cong-led UDF: Kappen

The Kerala unit of the NCP, presently an ally of the ruling Left Democratic Front, has split, according to rebel NCP MLA Mani C. Kappen who leads the breakaway faction.

Kappen stated this after arriving here on Saturday from Delhi, where the state NCP leadership had a meeting with its national president over the impasse in the state unit.

“I am no longer in the LDF and tomorrow we would join the ongoing rally of Congress’ Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala at Pala and we will become an ally of the Congress-led UDF,” said Kappen.

Kappen said seven of the 14 district presidents of the NCP and nine of the 17 state leaders who are in the national committee are with him.

NCP in Kerala over the years has been an ally of the Left and presently it has two legislators, including a state minister.

NCP got a major boost when Mani C. Kappen won the Pala Assembly seat in 2019 in a bye-election, following the death of veteran K.M. Mani who was the legislator from Pala since its inception in 1967 and had not lost a single Assembly election.

Kappen who lost to Mani in 2011 and 2016, won the seat in 2019 as K.M. Mani’s party – Kerala Congress (Mani) failed to capitalise on the sympathy factor.

But things went awry for Kappen ever since K.M. Mani’s son, Jose K. Mani, who now leads the Kerala Congress (Mani) along with his supporters became an ally of the LDF, while its other faction led by P.J. Joseph continues in the UDF.

And it became more evident after the LDF’s success in the local body polls held in December, especially in districts like Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, where Jose K. Mani was able to bring in more seats for the Left.

Things turned from bad to worse, when talk began that Kappen would have to vacate his seat in the upcoming Assembly polls in April-May for Jose K. Mani, who has already quit the Rajya Sabha and is all set to contest from Pala.

NCP nominee in the Pinarayi Vijayan government, A.K. Saseendran said Kappen has let down all those who voted to elect him, especially the LDF.

“It’s unfortunate that Kappen took the decision to leave, even before the national leadership of our party made theirs. If one now looks into what’s happening, it’s now clear that Kappen had a tacit understanding with the UDF,” said Saseendran.

“Kappen is only an indivudal and not the party, as the NCP continues to be in the Left fold. His leaving will have no impact,” said LDF convenor and CPM leader A. Vijayaraghavan.

Leader of opposition and Congress veteran Ramesh Chennithala who is leading his yatra in the state welcomed the decision of Kappen.

“We welcome Kappen into our fold and he will contest from his sitting seat at Pala. The Left has cheated Kappen as his winning seat is being given to the party which lost the polls,” said Chennithala.