NATIONAL NEWS

Mani returns to UDF

Thiruvananthapuram, June 8: The Congress party was in turmoil in Kerala on Friday even as estranged ally K.M. Mani returned to the UDF fold after being given a Rajya Sabha seat the Congress could have easily won. Veteran Congress leader and former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien blamed former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for the surrender of the Rajya Sabha seat, a decision which also sparked street protests by young Congress activists in the state. Kurien told the media in Delhi that he had no grudge against Mani. “This seat, which should have rightfully gone to the Congress, was handed on a platter to Mani. What should have happened was that the Political Affairs Committee of the state Congress should have met and a discussion should have taken place… This never happened.” Mani, who in 2016 walked out of the United Democratic Front (UDF) ending over a four decade long association, was all smiles on Friday. Mani said his party had decided to rejoin the UDF and thanked the Congress for giving his party the Rajya Sabha seat.
Minutes before Mani’s arrival was announced, former state Congress chief V.M. Sudheeran walked out of the meeting expressing his displeasure over the Congress decision. As the UDF meeting continued, young Congress activists staged a sit-in outside the venue. Mani said: “We will now all work together to see the resurrection of the UDF.” Chandy, however, told IANS that the decision on giving the Rajya Sabha to Kerala Congress (Mani) was meant to strengthen the UDF. Those backing the nomination of Mani’s party to the Rajya Sabha include Chandy, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and state Congress chief M.M. Hassan besides IUML Lok Sabha member P.K. Kunhalikutty. On Thursday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi sanctioned Mani’s return to the alliance. An upset Sudheeran told the media that although Mani’s return was welcome, the way the affair was handled, minus transparency, had hurt the Congress and UDF workers. (IANS)