Thiruvanthapuram, March 11: The ruling Oommen Chandy-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is all set to lose its ally Kerala Congress as it has decided to vote for the Left nominee during Thursday’s election for the speaker’s post. The party led by veteran R. Balakrish Pillai, who often claims that he is one of the founder members of the UDF along with K. Karukaran in the early ’80s, has one legislator - Pillai’s son K.B. Ganesh Kumar. Both have been cut up with the UDF for some time now. “Today is the happiest day in my life. Technically we are not in the UDF now. For the past four years I have remained aloof from the UDF and Ganesh Kumar was also suspended from the UDF. So, we have decided to vote for the Left candidate tomorrow (Thursday) during the speaker’s election,” Pillai said to reporters at his Kottarakara residence on Wednesday.
Kerala’s speaker G. Karthikeyan passed away last week and subsequently the UDF asked N. Sakthan, who was the deputy speaker, to resign and file nomition papers for the speaker’s post. The Left has fielded two-time CPI-M legislator Aiysha Potti as their candidate and the election will take place in the assembly at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday. “Pillai and his party are now not attending the UDF meeting as they have been suspended. His party voting against us tomorrow is the least surprising. We knew this would happen. Next week when the UDF meets, his party will be officially removed as an UDF ally,” said senior Congress leader and UDF convenor P.P. Thankachen to reporters here.
Incidentally, when Ganesh Kumar votes for Potti on Thursday, the wheel would have turned full circle, as in the 2006 assembly polls she registered her first election victory when she defeated Pillai and in the 2011 assembly polls she defeated Pillai’s handpicked candidate.
Last December, Ganesh Kumar went hammer and tongs against his former cabinet colleague on the floor of the Kerala assembly, raising allegations of corruption, and since then he has been booted out of the UDF meetings. In January this year, the UDF gave Ganesh Kumar one last chance, asking him to mend his ways and behave himself, but he continued his negative attitude towards the UDF. Ganesh Kumar is also unhappy with the UDF as he has not been taken back into the cabinet after he resigned a couple of years back following a domestic issue with his then wife. In the 139-member Kerala assembly, the UDF has 73 legislators and the Left’s strength has gone up by one to 66. “We do not require Pillai’s party’s vote to win tomorrow’s election,” said Thankachen. (IANS)