Thodupuzha: A court here has stayed the election of Jose K Mani as the chairman of Kerala Congress (M) [KC(M)], the third largest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.
The Thodupuzha Municipal Court on Monday stayed the election based on a petition filed by two state committee members of the KC(M).
As per the stay order, Jose K Mani is not allowed to handle the office of the party chairman. He also cannot conduct organisational elections.
The petitioners, apparently belonging to the faction led by party veteran P J Joseph, allege that the election of Jose K Mani was in violation of party rules.
The KC(M) suffered a split Sunday with a faction in the party electing Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani, son of its founder late K M Mani, as the chairman.
The development capped weeks-long infighting in the party between supporters of Jose Mani and working chairman P J Joseph following the demise of K M Mani in April this year.
Jose K Mani was elected as the chairman of the party by the leaders supporting him at a meeting of the State Committee members here convened by him.
Reacting to the development, Joseph said Jose was elected by "a crowd" and not by the state committee and all of them will be treated as having quit the Kerala Congress (M).
The decision would not sustain in law as it was taken by "violating" all norms of the party constitution, he charged.
Hours ahead of the meeting, the faction led by Joseph declared it as 'invalid' and said it was against the party Constitution.
After the meeting, 'presiding officer' K Z Kunjeriya announced to the party workers that Jose K Mani has been "elected unanimously" as chairman.
Out of 437 state committee members of the party, as many as 325 attended the meeting, the faction leaders claimed.
The Kerala Congress, which has a history of splits since its inception in 1964, has a strong base in the central Travancore belt, especially among Christians.
Expressing his gratitude to the party leaders for electing him as 'chairman', Jose K Mani said "K M Mani sir is with us in our forward journey.I will work hard to follow the path shown by him."
The party would function unitedly, he said in his speech in the presence of mediapersons.
According to leaders of the Joseph faction, there are a total of 437 members in the KC(M)'s jumbo state committee.
Senior leaders of the party, including former Rajya Sabha MP Joy Abraham, MLAs C F Thomas and Mons Joseph, did not attend the meeting.
Out of five MLAs of the Kerala Congress (M), only two attended the meeting.
Jose K Mani's followers said KC(M)'s Idukki MLA Roshy Augustine and Kanjirappally MLA N Jayaraj and lone Lok Sabha MP of the party, Thomas Chazhikadan, were the prominent leaders who attended the meeting.
CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the party suspected the hand of Congress behind the split of the Kerala Congress (M).
"It is a strategic move by the Congress to reap political benefit in Kottayam area by splitting its ally," he alleged.
Trouble had been brewing in the KC(M) following the demise of K M Mani.
The party's organisational general secretary Joy Abraham's letter to Chief Election Officer Teeka Ram Meena declaring Joseph as KC(M) chairman after the veteran's death had been opposed by the faction headed by Jose K Mani.