The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) here Sunday failed to take a unanimous stand on the merger of a faction of the Kerala Congress-Joseph, led by former minister P.J. Joseph, with the front's constituent Kerala Congress-Mani.
Addressing reporters here, UDF convenor and Congress leader P.P. Thankachen said the Congress continues to have the same reservations that it had ever since the news of the merger of the two parties first surfaced.
'The Congress party's opinion is the same and there has been no change in it. In the meeting there was no unanimity in accepting the merger and hence the discussions will continue in this regard,' said Thankachen.
Joseph has been part of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) for the past two decades.
Last month, he quit the cabinet of Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, paving the way for his faction of the Kerala Congress-Joseph to merge with the Kerala Congress-Mani (KC-Mani).
The Congress for long has been highlighting the corruption cases that Joseph is allegedly involved in and has organised a series of protests both inside and outside the assembly. Hence, it is finding it difficult to carry him along in the UDF.
Despite severe opposition from other UDF allies like the Kerala Congress-B, Kerala Congress-Jacob and the Communist Marxist Party, with the Indian Union Muslim League keeping mum, KC-Mani Thursday allowed Kerala Congress-Joseph to merge with it. The merger took place at Kottayam.
Speaking to IANS, vice chairman of KC-Mani and five-time legislator P.C. George said that time will heal the wounds.
'This (merger) has become a reality and Joseph is now the working chairman of our party. Discussions on this issue will continue and you wait and see, the UDF is a mature body and at an appropriate time everything will be cleared. Let us wait for the time being,' said George.
George, ahead of the assembly polls in 2006, quit Joseph's party to form his own party. George's party later merged with K.M. Mani's KC-Mani last year.
The strength of KC-Mani in the assembly has gone up to 11 with three legislators of the Joseph's faction of Kerala Congress-Joseph joining it as part of the merger.
The fourth legislator of Kerala Congress-Joseph, Surendran Pillai, is now in the Kerala Congress led by former union minister of state P.C. Thomas, which remains with the LDF.
Until now, the KC-Mani and the Indian Union Muslim League were jointly the second biggest parties in the UDF with eight legislators each.