Kerala elections: Kerala Congress led by PC Thomas quits NDA, merges with PJ Joseph faction, joins UDF
Kerala Congress faction headed by former Union Minister PC Thomas has quit BJP-led NDA and merged with another Kerala Congress faction headed by PJ Joseph
Less than a month before Assembly elections in Kerala, the Kerala Congress faction headed by former Union Minister PC Thomas quit BJP-led NDA and merged with another Kerala Congress faction headed by PJ Joseph, who had broken away from the Kerala Congress (M).
Thomas said he decided to quit the alliance to protest the denial of seats in the upcoming assembly elections. Thomas said the BJP insulted his party by denying seats. “We sought four seats which BJP refused to allot. BJP leaders wanted me to contest from Pala (where KC leader Jose K Mani is contesting). I have refused to take up that seat due to personal reasons. We decided not to continue with NDA,” he said. Thomas had helped the NDA register its first electoral victory in Kerala by winning the 2004 Lok Sabha polls from then Muvattupuzha seat.
The Kerala Congress leader, who was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, said his party was given four seats in the 2016 Assembly polls but not a single seat this time.
This merger would help the PJ Joseph faction too as the title of Kerala Congress is with Thomas. Hence, post merger, the party doesn’t require any new name. “Ten candidates of Joseph faction, contesting as UDF candidates, would be known as Kerala Congress candidates,” said Thomas, according to The Indian Express.
Joseph had lost the legal battle for party symbol of two leaves. The party symbol was given to Kerala Congress M, led by Jose K Mani, who has now joined LDF. If Joseph hadn’t merged with Thomas, who owns Kerala Congress title, he would have been forced to field his candidates as independents.
The merger became a reality two days after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by PJ Joseph challenging the Election Commission's order recognising the Jose K Mani faction as the official Kerala Congress (M) and allotting the party's symbol to it.
Thomas said BJP wanted him to contest from Pala assembly seat, but he did not take up the offer due to personal reasons.
Welcoming the merger of two Kerala Congress groups, former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Thomas made the right decision adding that more such democratic forces would join the Congress-led alliance in the state.