August 2020
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UDF ousts Kerala Congress (M)-Jose K Mani faction over panchayat prez post issue
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Congress (M) faction, led by Jose K Mani, was ousted from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) on Monday in connection with the tussle over the Kottayam district panchayat chief post. The ouster follows the faction''s refusal to honour an agreement made in public with the coalition front over sharing the post. As per the agreement, the Jose faction was allowed to hold the post for six months and the faction led by Kerala Congress chairman P J Joseph for the remaining six months. "But, even after eight months the Jose faction refused to honour the agreement. Besides, the faction openly declared that the pact was not valid," UDF convenor Benny Behanan told reporters.

The decision on the ouster was taken at a high- level meeting of the front here, and after a discussion by the leaders with all the other allies in the front, Behanan said. He said the Jose-led faction does not deserve to continue in the front as the faction refused to honour the pact. The faction would not be invited for any further UDF meetings and other decisions would be decided in the online meeting of UDF on July 1, he said. Slamming the UDF decision, Jose K Mani alleged that "political injustice" has been meted out to his faction. Referring to the contribution made by his late father K M Mani in building the UDF in the state 38 years ago, the Rajya Sabha MP said the coalition has brushed aside the politics of his father and he was not ready to compromise on the party''s self-respect.

Addressing a press conference in Kottayam, Jose said the state leaders of his faction will meet on Tuesday to discuss the future course of action. The Jose faction claimed the decision was taken in a biased manner, and that the Joseph faction was behind pressurising the UDF leadership. Roshy Augustine, MLA, a leader of Jose faction, said they were "deeply hurt" by the UDF decision. Reacting cautiously, the state''s ruling CPI (M)-led LDF said "let the party of Jose K Mani make clear its stand first on the development." On the other hand, BJP state president K Surendran said those who uphold the policies and programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi''s government are welcome to the party-led NDA fold.

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