Jose K. Mani emerges as star in Kerala elections

By Sanu V. George
Thiruvananthapuram, March 10 : Politics is the art of the impossible, is a statement that can be attributed to Jose K.Mani, who for the CPI-M till a few months ago was in the untouchable category because of the long standing feud that the ruling party in Kerala had with his father, K.M.Mani.

K.M. Mani represented the Pala Assembly seat in Kottayam from 1967 till he died in 2019. The CPI-M had one of the most bitter feuds, especially during 2011-15 when he had to eventually quit as Kerala Finance Minister in the now infamous bar scam bribery case, which the CPI-M had raised and succeeded in booting him out as a minister.

But as is said anything in politics is possible, the CPI-M soon shunned its hatred towards Mani. Had it not been because of the strong stand taken by the CPI, the second biggest ally in the Left, Mani would have become their ally much earlier.

However, after the death of K.M. Mani in 2019, CPI-M found an opportunity in the internal feud of the Kerala Congress (Mani). It managed to get K.M. Mani’s son Jose K.Mani’s faction to ally with the Left Democratic Front last year.

Things turned for the better for Jose K.Mani, when he was able to win a few crucial seats in the December local body polls in Kottayam district and since then he has become the ‘new darling’ of the CPI-M. In the past few days, when it came to the Assembly seat distribution not only was he given 13 seats to contest, the CPI-M flexed its muscles and gave him two seats — Pala which was held by another Left ally-NCP and Ranni — a seat of the CPI-M held by its seasoned party worker Raju Abraham.

Given the new found likeness that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has towards Jose K.Mani, he had no qualms when sitting Left Front legislator, Mani C.Kappen belonging to the NCP an ally of the Left, walked out and joined the Congress-led UDF.

Apart from that, Jose K.Mani was given Kanjirappally and Irikur seats, which was being contested by the CPI, and Kutiyadi and Perumbavoor, which the CPI-M has been contesting and winning at times.

The CPI has already raised a banter, but knowing well that it’s big brother CPI-M, which takes the crucial decisions, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran clarified it was not upset on giving seats to a new party that has come into their fold.

“What matters is not the number of seats that a party contests, but how many seats a party wins,” said Rajendran.

The CPI is definitely peeved as it has not only lost two seats but also failed to get the Changanacherry seat, which has also gone to Jose K.Mani.

“When it comes to elections, nothing else matters other than bringing in votes. Vijayan feels, if Jose K.Mani can be accommodated, especially in Kottayam district, where he has been given the maximum seats, a section of the Catholic Church can be kept in good humour and it will bring rewards in other districts. In today’s world, ideology gets thrown out of the window and it’s nothing but a mad scramble to win and form the government and that’s what’s happening in Kerala politics now,” said a media critic who did not wish to be identified.


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