With its State unit caught in a political quagmire, the Central leadership of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is struggling to avoid a split in this minor constituent of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala.
Senior leaders of the party, including its national president Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, are seriously parleying with rival factions to settle their differences even as the break-up is becoming more apparent.
The conflict of interest among the leaders has emerged with Minister A.K. Saseendran staunchly committed to remain within the LDF fold even as his Cabinet colleague and CPI(M) leader Kadamkampally Surendran suggesting that he join the Congress (S), another minor partner of the front.
The puzzle has got more complex with Congress (S) leader and Ports Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran welcoming Mr. Saseendran into his party whist the Congress-the United Democratic Front is wooing the NCP into its coalition.
The trouble came to the fore in the party after the Jose K. Mani faction of the Kerala Congress (M) soldered its bond with the LDF after its runway success in the recent local body polls.
The political entropy thus started for the NCP with the CPI(M) favouring Mr. Mani to contest the Pala segment in the Assembly polls due in four months.
NCP legislator Mani C. Kappan, who now represents the segment after winning a byelection in September 2019, was from the outset opposed to an electoral alliance with the Mani faction. Incidentally Mr. Kappan was defeated by late K.M. Mani on earlier occasions.
This tussle between two legislators – Mr. Kappan and Mr. Saseendran – apart, the Kuttanad Assembly segment is another bone of contention within the party. Thomas K. Thomas is keen to contest on the party ticket for the seat which fell vacant upon the demise of his brother Thomas Chandy, in December 2019.
The talks between the rival leaders and their national leaders in the coming days will give a further dimension within the LDF that witnessed a faction breaking away from its another minor partner, the Janata Dal (Secular) last week.
Referring to the Pala segment, NCP State president T.P. Peethambaran is confident that the LDF will stick to its policy to field winners from the sitting seat.