Kerala NCP firm on not giving its assembly seats to any other LDF partner

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Kochi, Jan 7 (PTI) The Kerala unit of the Nationalist Congress Party on Thursday asserted there was no question of parting with the prestigious Pala seat held by it, amid a reported move by front to allot the constituency to another partner in the assembly elections expected in April-May.

After meeting party chief Sharad Pawar in Mumbai, NCP state president T P Peethambaran Master said the party would field candidates in all four seats which were allotted to it by the LDF in the previous assembly polls.

Master and some other leaders of the party met Pawar amid growing discontent within the state NCP over the reported move by the CPI(M)-led front to allot the Pala seat to newly inducted Kerala Congress (M).

Emerging from the meeting, Master said Pawar has directed the party's Kerala state unit not to surrender its sitting seats to any other coalition partners.

'Pawar-ji said NCP's sitting seats will not be given to any other partners. There is no question of the party giving any of its sitting seats to any other coalition partners,' he told reporters.

Although the CPI(M) has not made any statement on the seat sharing formula so far, a section of NCP leaderhip apprehends that the LDF will field KC(M) leader Jose K Mani from the Pala Assembly seat, which had been represented by his late father and Kerala Congress veteran K M Mani for more than five decades.

NCP leader Kappan, fielded by LDF, had won the Pala seat in the by-poll held in September 2019 defeating nearest rival Jose Tom Pulikunnel of KC(M) of the United Democratic Front (UDF) by a margin of 2,943 votes.

The election was necessitated following the demise of Mani, a former minister.

'I won the Pala Assembly seat for LDF after 53 long years.

Giving that seat to any other partner is not justice. Pawar-ji has agreed to our views,' Kappan said.

The KC(M), which joined LDF a few months ago after severing its decades long ties with the Congress-led UDF, has not made any claim publicly for the seat so far.

Meanwhile, leadership of the Congress-led UDF, which is closely watching the developments in LDF, indicated it would welcome NCP in its fold if it ends its association with the ruling front.

'We have not conducted any discussion on the matter so far. Let them (NCP) announce their decision first. At present it is a hypothetical question,' UDF convener M M Hassan told PTI when contacted.

The senior Congress leader, however, said, 'if any LDF partner wants to join the UDF fold after ending their association with the CPI(M)-led front, we will not reject them'. PTI TGB VS VS