All eyes on Jose K. Mani after LDF counsel’s remark against father

Moment of reckoning has arrived in KC(M)-LDF alliance

For the Kerala Congress (M), which ditched its four-decade-long association with the Congress-led United Democratic Front and swung to the other end of the political spectrum, a long-term alliance with the Left Democratic Front was always going to be harder than basking in the electoral success during the short term.

Under the leadership of Jose K. Mani, the regional party from Central Travancore has been highly aspirational and its association with the CPI(M)-led LDF created a new political recipe. But as a party that upholds the legacy of its founder leader K.M. Mani, the decision to align itself with the Left parties, which had for long set themselves against the ‘Mani brand of politics’, also appears to have landed it in a maze of bewildering complexities.

While such paradoxes have been cunningly covered up in the short term under a warm personal relationship between leaders at the top, the first moment of reckoning finally appears to have arrived for both sides. The other day, a counsel representing the LDF government reportedly described the late Mani as a corrupt politician, drawing strong objections from the KC(M).

The statement, as per reports, was made during a hearing on the ruckus on the floor of the State Assembly during the presentation of the State budget in 2015. It came as a huge embarrassment for the KC(M) and came in handy for the leaders of the Opposition UDF, especially the Congress, to target their former alliance partner.

In fact, it was the Congress that first came up with a response to the statement, terming it a slap on the face of the KC(M) chairman. The national party was instantly followed by P.J. Joseph, arch rival of Mr. Mani, who too seized the opportunity and declared his unwavering support to the late Mani.

Compelled to offer an explanation, the KC(M) issued a protest statement through its general secretary Stephen George, urging the State government to withdraw the statement and seek an explanation from the lawyer who made such a highly irresponsible remark. Mr. Mani, the founder leader of KC(M), had been acquitted by the High Court once and the vigilance court on two occasions, he pointed out.

Mr. Mani, however, has been underwhelming and shown a lack of urgency to respond, even as speculation is rife over CPI(M) leaders reaching out to pacify him. The LDF too has taken a step sideways, ignoring the uproar from the Opposition and even accusing the media of ‘manufacturing content’.

With the KC(M) leadership slated to meet for the first time after the Assembly elections, all eyes are now on whether Mr. Mani will break his silence or as always, break out of the trap with his ingenuity and imagination.

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