Amid wrangling between two factions in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over shifting coalition loyalties, party president Sharad Pawar, who was scheduled to meet the State leaders cancelled his Kerala visit on Saturday for taking part in Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary event in Mumbai.
Sources said that Mr. Pawar had deputed senior leader Parful Patel next week to chalk out a formula even as the two factions led by Mani C. Kappan, MLA, and Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran held a series of tactical exercises in the last fortnight.
The Central leadership, after parleying with several leaders, including State president T.P. Peethambaran, is likely to toe the line of the official faction to walk out of the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) if it fails to honour the policy of fielding winners of constituents from their sitting seat.
The decision of the CPI(M) to favour its nascent constituent, Jose K. Mani faction for the Pala Assembly segment, overriding the claims of Mr. Kappan, a seat he had captured in a by-election in September 2019 and the hankering of Mr. Saseendran to contest again while remaining in the LDF had resulted in the tussle between the two coteries in the party.
The development comes as Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala who is to embark on a ‘Kerala Yatra’ from Kasaragod next week made an overtures of electoral alliance to the NCP for the coming Assembly polls.
The NCP Central leadership feels that the bitter power struggle between the two factions and the overzealous publicity on the issue have dented the image and backfired on the party. It also perceived that the dismal performance of Mr. Saseendran as Transport Minister and he remaining as a perennial contender in every other polls did not entitle him to run again for an Assembly seat.
Incidentally, Mr. Peethambaran also lashed out against Mr. Saseenrdan for holding a caucus of those leaders owing allegiance to him ahead of now called off meeting which Mr. Pawar was to participate at Nedumbassery.
For the Central leadership, the NCP which is part of a coalition formed between Shiv Sena and the Congress in Maharashtra, has no inhibition of having a political cohabitation either with the Congress or the CPI(M) led fronts in Kerala.
By the same token, the State unit would abide by whatever decision the Central leadership takes on forging an alliance with the United Democratic Front (UDF0 even if Mr. Saseendran revolted and quit the party, the sources said.