In a U-turn, the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) on Wednesday said the Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K Mani had not been ousted, but had only been asked to keep away from the front meetings.
"The UDF leadership has not ousted anyone from the front. The front had only decided not to allow the Jose faction to participate in the UDF meetings till it accepts the agreement reached by the coalition earlier on the Kottayam district panchayat president post," UDF chairman Ramesh Chennithala told reporters after a meeting with the front partners in Thiruvananthpuram.
As per the agreement, the Jose K Mani faction was allowed to hold the post of Panchayat President for eight months and the faction led by party working chairman, PJ Joseph for the remaining six months.
However, after their term, the Jose K Mani faction refused to resign, prompting the UDF to take action. "We have not removed any faction from the front," Mr Chennithal, a senior Congress leader, said and blamed the media for misreporting.
Since there was no other option, it was decided not to allow the Jose faction to participate in any of the UDF meetings, he said.
"The moment they agree to implement the UDF decision, thefaction will be allowed to take part in the meetings," Chennithala said, adding, unfortunately the media thought that they were removed from the front.
The volte-face has come two days after UDF convener Benny Behanan announced that the front had decided to oustthe Jose faction following its refusal to honour the agreement with regard to sharing of the post.
After the death of KM Mani, Kerala Congress (M) supremo and father of Jose K Mani, there were differences of opinion in that party.
The UDF did try to bring the two factions together.
But as they were not able to work together, it was decided to consider them as two separate parties, Mr Chennithala said.
As per a truce, the Jose K Mani faction was allowed to hold the post of Kottayam district panchayat president for eight months after which the remaining period would be held by the faction led by PJ Joseph, working chairman of the party.
Describing the Jose-faction as an "integral part" of the front,
Mr Chennithala said they shared a four decade long relationship.
Since the past four months, UDF leaders have been holding talks with the faction but there was no fruitful outcome, he said.
Jose K Mani has described the UDF's ouster as "political injustice" and made it clear that they were not prepared to hold talks with the UDF.
After the latest development, Jose K Mani, a Rajya Sabha MP, told reporters in Kottayam that there was no change in their stand.
"What wrong have we done?" he asked. The Jose faction has two MPs and two MLAs in its fold.