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Congress-led UDF suffers jolt as 3-decade-old key partner quits

A decision to this effect was taken at a crucial two-day conclave of the KC-M which concluded on Sunday at Charalkunnu in Pathanamthitta district.

Launching a tirade at the Congress, party supremo Mani said some leaders in the Congress had “consciously” made efforts to ‘weaken’ KC-M and especially its party leader who was “fiercely attacked and humiliated” by some in that party’s leadership.

“Hence, the party has decided to sever ties with UDF and sit as a separate block in the assembly and function as a responsible opposition,” the 82-year-old veteran said. “We are leaving the UDF....” he said.

In Parliament, KC(M) will provide issue-based support to Congress-led UPA, he said. However, Mani said in the local bodies, the tie-up with UDF would continue.

The UDF has “weakened” as political decency required in coalition politics has not been shown, Mani said. He hoped that the stand taken by KC(M) will help other coalition partners in UDF to introspect.
“Faith and love among the front partners has eroded and we are considered as an enemy. A battalion, a particular recruitment, a particular study class, was held to defeat us,” he said, apparently pointing fingers at Opposition leader, Ramesh Chennithala, heading the ‘I’ faction in the Congress.

Asked to identify who he was referring to, Mani declined to give any names and said those in the Congress leadership would understand. “Bar bribery case is only one of the reasons behind the decisions to leave UDF. There are other reasons also,” he said.

Asked about their future course of action, he said the party will neither go to LDF or BJP-NDA camp. “We will give all our attention to strengthening the party.”

Reacting to the development, Congress leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy termed the development as “unfortunate” while Chennithala, who was a target of KC-M, said Mani has “cheated” the democratic people of the state.

Kerala Congress, formed in 1964, has a history of switching fronts and has suffered many splits since its inception.

The rift in relations between the Congress and KC(M) came to the fore after Mani announced he would keep away from a crucial UDF leaders liaison committee meeting last month, forcing the front to postpone it.

Even though Congress leaders, including Chandy, tried to iron out differences by holding talks, Mani refused to budge. Relations between the KC(M) and the Congress over the bar bribery scam worsened last month after Chandy and Chennithala attended the betrothal ceremony of the daughter of controversial hotelier Biju Ramesh with the son of Congress leader and former minister Adoor Prakash.

Ramesh, working president of Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association, had levelled bribery charges against Mani, which finally led to his resignation.

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