THE KERALA unit of the NCP, a long-time ally of the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, is all set for a split ahead of the assembly elections with a faction led by party legislator Mani C Kappan deciding to join the Congress-led UDF. The move is a fallout of the CPI (M) decision to hand over Kappan’s seat Pala to the Kerala Congress (M), a new entrant in the LDF.
Ever since the CPI(M) decided to give the Kerala Congress (M) the Pala seat, which Kappan had won for the LDF in a 2019 bypoll, a group led by him has been pulling apart from the ruling alliance. Contending that denial of the seat as unfair, Kappan had tried to convince the NCP’s national leadership to quit the LDF. With the national leadership delaying a final decision in his favour, Kappan on Friday said he would join the UDF.
“I wanted the national leadership to convey a final decision (on continuing alliance with LDF) before Sunday,’’ Kappan said.
Sources in the Kappan camp said he fixed Sunday as a deadline considering that the UDF’s state-wide political tour, led by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, would enter Pala that day.
The UDF welcomed Kappan’s decision with Chennithala announcing that the UDF was ready to allot Pala seat to Kappan.
Although Kappan has been insistent on his party quitting the LDF following this decision, another faction of the NCP led by state Transport
Minister A K Saseendran wanted to continue with ruling alliance. Saseendran has been winning from Elathur in Kozhikode, a CPI(M) bastion, and remaining with the LDF is critical for him. The NCP won three seats in the 2016 assembly elections.