After weeks of suspense, former Finance Minister of Kerala KM Mani has finally made the much-awaited announcement. His party Kerala Congress (M) will no longer be a part of the United Democratic Front. The official announcement to break ties with UDF that ‘plotted’ against them came after a long meeting of the party’s steering committee at Charalkunnu in Pattanamthitta.
Flanked by top leaders of the party KM Mani declared at a press meet that certain factions of the Congress had hatched a conspiracy to weaken the Kerala Congress (M).
“We have decided to leave the UDF and work as a separate independent opposition block in the assembly,” said KM Mani. He, however, refused to name any Congress leaders individually and said there was no need for that anymore. "We were forced to reach this decision. We adjusted a lot, forgave a lot of people, but could not take it anymore," he said.
With the decision to act as an independent block in the assembly, Mani has also put an end to immediate speculations whether Kerala Congress (M) would join the LDF or NDA. "We are not going to the LDF or NDA, we will act independently," Mani claimed.
Kerala Congress (M) has been a part of the UDF in Kerala for the past 32 years and though most Congress leaders are putting up a brave face; the decision does come as a significant setback for the front.
One of the main reasons for leaving the UDF according to the party was the clandestine support given by the Congress to candidates who were fielded against the Kerala Congress (M) in the assembly elections. The party has blamed Congress interference and silent support to rebel candidate PC George for his victory at in Poonjar.
The party has also blamed Congress for working in the background in a bid to defeat KM Mani from Pala and other candidates from constituencies like Thiruvalla and Ettumanoor.
In a speech on Sunday morning, UDF Chairman Ramesh Chennithala warned any force that turns against the Congress.
The hostility between the Kerala Congress (M) and the Indian National Congress had been growing in the past few months after KM Mani was forced to resign as the Finance Minister in the run up to elections. With allegations of corruption mounting against Mani and the court also making adverse remarks, Oommen Chandy finally let go off Mani.
But what was unpalatable to Kerala Congress (M) was that Chandy clung on to his Excise minister KV Babu, who had been facing similar charges of corruption.
Reacting to Kerala Congress (M)'s exit, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that misunderstandings over the bar scam had lead to the rift.