Kottayam: Differences among Kerala Congress (M) factions over party chairmanship have intensified. Mani group is in no mood to compromise on chairmanship as they fear losing control of the party if someone from the rival Joseph faction takes over. Joseph faction, however, wants to avoid a vote by the party's state committee and prefers a consensual appointment of the new party chairman, the successor to late leader K M Mani.
While veteran leader and interim party chief P J Joseph suggested he was ready to be the new chief with consensus, Jose K Mani, MP, sought a state committee poll. Shooting down Joseph's proposal to become the party leader himself Jose once again pitched for a state committee sitting.
Joseph had also offered Jose the post of working chairman of the party, a role the former himself had until his recent appointment as the interim chief.
On Monday, Joseph had made his intentions clear about not calling a state committee meeting any time soon. He put forward the following equation – he himself as chairman, Jose, the working chairman and CF Thomas, MLA, parliamentary party leader.
Such a decision cannot be taken as per the whims of any one leader, said Roshi Augustine, MLA, responding to Joseph's moves.
Roshi also backed Jose’s stance on calling a state committee meeting.
Jose added that state committee had to convene even if consensus on the new chairman was reached. Election is required if state committee finds the choice of chairman inappropriate, he added.
As per party rules, state committee meeting is called under special circumstances only. It also states it is only when a parliamentary party leader dies, his deputy takes over.
Jose vs Joseph at remembrance meet
Joseph detailed the party’s history during the remembrance meet of K M Mani, but his son Jose chose not to speak.
Joseph said he returned to party only because Mani called him back. He even declined ministership for party’s unity.
Interestingly, Joseph was introduced as the working chairman by the announcer at this meet held in Thodupuzha.
Mani, the party chairman, had died recently.
Sunday’s event was planned by Mani faction in response to another remembrance event called by Joseph faction in the name of state committee in Thiruvananthapuram. Mani group claimed the Kottayam event was a contrast to the function held in the state capital which reportedly had poor participation, pointing to Joseph's real strength in the party.
Party general secretary Joy Abraham did not attend Monday's event after he switched from Mani camp to Joseph's, triggering threats against him on social media. There were calls to attack and strip him if Joy attended the meet.
Jose met steering committee members at the state committee office after the event. Outside the venue, Mamman Mappila Hall, members greeted with applause Jose's declaration that the new chairman will be selected by the party state committee.