Kerala Congress Thomas faction leaves NDA ahead of assembly polls
With just three weeks left for the assembly elections, the Kerala Congress Thomas faction on Wednesday left the Bharatiya Janata Party -led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and merged with Kerala Congress (Joseph), which is part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Party chief P C Thomas, minister of state for law in Vajpayee cabinet, claimed he was forced to leave the NDA since the BJP was not ready to give it even a “single” seat against his demand for four.
“The BJP has asked me to contest from Pala constituency in Kottayam district and I told them I have some personal reasons for not contesting from there,” he told newsmen in Kottayam. He said the BJP failed to respect the coalition dharma, forcing him to quit the alliance. He said his party has decided to merge with the Joseph faction of the Kerala Congress, and he will be the deputy leader of the new party.
Joseph faction leader and MLA Mons Joseph also confirmed the merger. The BJP said Thomas was “inactive” in the NDA for quite some time and was in talks with UDF leaders. The election for the 140-member Kerala assembly will be held in a single phase on April 6.
Thomas wields influence in certain Christian pockets in Kottayam and Idukki districts and has left the NDA when the BJP was trying to curry favour with the minority community. A Lok Sabha MP from 1989 to 2009 from Muvattupuzha, Thomas helped the NDA register its maiden electoral victory in Kerala in 2004.
He joined the NDA after falling out with his mentor K M Mani in 2001, following which, he formed the Indian Federal Democratic Party (IFDP). Later, he was inducted into the Vajpayee cabinet.
There are at least six parties bearing the name of Kerala Congress in the state. Both the UDF and ruling LDF had liaison with some of the splinter groups. At one point, when Mani was alive, he was ready to cross over to the LDF camp but the move was thwarted by the CPI, second biggest partner in the LDF. Desperate to get a foothold in the state, the BJP also tried to woo Jose K Mani but he finally joined the LDF last year.
Last week, former All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary PC Chacko quit the party, alleging rival factions within the party’s state unit were giving tickets to their loyalists. He joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday.