Mani C. Kappan meets NCP national president in Mumbai.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s top leadership has initiated talks to avoid a split in its State-unit over the proposal to cede the Pala seat to Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (M).
NCP national president Sharad Pawar and general secretary in charge of Kerala Praful Patel have summoned the opposing NCP factions for talks in New Delhi on February 1.
The NCP leaders are also likely to consult CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and his counterpart in the Communist Party of India (CPI), D. Raja.
Incumbent Pala legislator Mani C. Kappan’s vehement resistance to the proposal had brought the fissures in the NCP’s State unit to the fore.
Transport Minister A. K. Saseendran, an NCP veteran, reportedly felt that an accommodation with Mr. Mani would bring rich dividends, including a Rajya Sabha seat that would enhance the party’s national profile.
Mr. Saseendran’s position had the purported approval of the CPI (M). However, NCP State president T.P. Peethambaran was adamant about holding on to the current four Assembly seats in the party’s possession, including Pala.
Mr. Kappan met Mr. Pawar in Mumbai on Monday. He told reporters in Mumbai that the NCP would never forsake the Pala seat. He had wrested the constituency from the Kerala Congress (M) after a hard-fought campaign. There was no reason for the NCP to surrender the constituency to Mr. Mani, who had just joined the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Mr. Kappan said he had told Mr. Pawar that Mr. Saseendran had called a factional meeting of few NCP office bearers at his residence in mid-January.
Mr. Saseendran had allegedly kept the State leadership in the dark about the conclave. Only a few Saseendran ‘loyalists’ had attended the meeting. Most State and district and office bearers had stayed away. Mr. Saseendran was in the minority in the NCP. The rank and file answered to the State president, he said.
Mr. Kappan said he had not complained to Mr. Pawar about Mr. Saseendran. “I apprised him about the facts. Mr. Pawar was loath to give up any seat held by the NCP currently,” he said.
Mr. Kappan said neither the CPI(M) nor the CPI leadership had asked him to yield Pala to Mr. Mani. However, Mr. Mani has publicly expressed such a requirement.
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