Kottayam: Nisha Jose K Mani, the wife of Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K Mani, could be chosen as the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate for the crucial Pala by-poll that would be held on September 23. Though rumours are rife both within the party and outside about Nisha’s candidature, no official statement has been issued so far in this regard.
Nisha is reportedly engaged in relief efforts in Pala after the recent floods.
Ever since its formation in 1965, the Pala constituency in Kottayam district had been represented by Kerala Congress (M) supremo KM Mani, whose demise in April has necessitated the by-poll.
The factional feud within the party was out in the open after his death, with one faction led by Mani’s son Jose K Mani and the other by working chairman PJ Joseph parting ways.
It is a matter of honour for both the factions to win back the Pala seat.
Even the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) camps are keenly following the developments in the Kerala Congress (M).
The biggest challenge faced by the UDF would be to reach a consensus with both the warring factions of the Kerala Congress (M). But in some relief for the opposition front, P J Joseph had hinted at reconciliation the other day.
Will Joseph faction back Nisha?
Joseph said that he would back any candidate chosen by the UDF. "If she was found to be a winning candidate, we would back Nisha Jose K Mani." Joseph had said. However, Joseph later made veiled attacks against Jose K Mani, making it clear that he was not in a mood to relent after the recent factional disputes.
Meanwhile, Nisha’s husband Jose K Mani, a Rajya Sabha MP, said that no decision has been made regarding the candidate.
"We will discuss and decide. The party leadership would meet soon. We would amicably solve the problems. We had a hunch that the bypoll would be held in September and we had begun our preparations," he added.
Earlier, Jose K Mani faction had claimed that the responsibility of picking the candidate for Pala, which was held by Mani for 54 years, would not be given to the Joseph group.
Some in the party have also had urged Jose K Mani to contest the bypoll.
The son of K M Mani is the best candidate to retain the seat, they argued. Another name doing the rounds is that of professor E J Augusthy.
The Jose K Mani faction has so far held one round of talks over candidate selection. The party plan to hold a one-day camp in the first week of September and pick the candidate.
All the three fronts were gearing up for bypoll when incessant rain and floods disrupted life across Kerala. The focus then shifted to relief works. Now, with the announcement of the bypolls, all the three fronts are back in poll mode. But neither the CPM-led LDF nor the BJP-led NDA has announced their candidates. NCP leader Mani C Kappan could be the LDF candidate. NCP national leader Praful leader had met Mani C Kappan and state president Thomas Chandy and held discussions on the bypoll.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had gone to Pala to assess the campaigning activities of the LDF.
The NDA has decided that a BJP candidate should contest from Pala. The NDA's district meet was held in Pala. District president N Hair, K P Jayasuryan, former vice-chairman of the Rubber Board, and Narayanan Namboodiri are in the reckoning for the Pala by-poll.