Ousted Kerala NCP legislator forms new party

Nationalist Congress Party’s ousted Kerala legislator Mani C. Kappen on Monday announced that he has formed a new party – the Nationalist Congress-Kerala.

Kappen would be the President of the party and Babu Karthikeyen will be its Working President.

The Kerala unit of the NCP, presently a constituent of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), split earlier this month, with Kappen, who leads the breakaway faction, announcing his decision to leave the LDF. On February 14, he joined the Congress-led United Democratic Front at a rally led by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithalain his Assembly constituency Pala.

“I did not get justice from the Left Democratic Front and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked me to contest from Kuttanadu assembly seat. We will ask the UDF for three seats to contest in the upcoming Assembly polls,” said Kappen.

The NCP in Kerala has been an ally of the Left over the years and has two legislators, including a state minister, while a third seat it held is now vacant after the death of their sitting legislator in 2019.

The NCP got a major boost when 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 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 wary for Kappen ever since K.M. Mani’s son, Jose K. Mani, who now leads the Kerala Congress-Mani, joined the LDF along with his supporters, while its other faction led by P.J. Joseph continues in the UDF.

Now the ball is in the court of the Congress on if it will formally induct Kappen’s new party as a new member of the United Democratic Front, as state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran has already said it will be best if Kappen joins the Congress.

But the solace for Kappen is Chennithala has already announced that Kappen will be given the Pala seat and the UDF will not put up another candidate.