Kappan forms new party, joins UDF

MLA participates in Aiswarya Kerala Yatra led by Chennithala

The political drama that unfolded in Pala ever since the entry of Kerala Congress (M) [KC(M)] in the ruling coalition has finally reached its climax with Mani C. Kappan, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA of Pala, formally joining the United Democratic Front (UDF) on Sunday.

After a massive road show through the streets of Pala town in the morning, Mr. Kappan reached the venue of the Aiswarya Kerala Yatra led by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and was accorded a rousing reception. Besides Mr. Ramesh, almost all top leaders of the UDF, including Oommen Chandy, P.J. Joseph, and P.K. Kunhalikutty, were present at the venue.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Kappan extended his gratitude to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) for their wholehearted support to him during his tenure as the legislator of Pala. He also listed out the development projects worth ₹462 crore that had been implemented in Pala over the last 16 months.

Further, he unleashed a scathing attack on the KC(M) chairman Jose K. Mani and CPI(M) district unit secretary V.N. Vasavan ‘for standing in way of Pala’s development.’

“With the entry of Jose K. Mani, the fall of LDF has begun. In fact, whoever associated with Mr. Mani is bound to perish sooner than later,” Mr. Kappan said, amidst huge applause.

The speech of Mr. Ramesh, meanwhile, focused mostly on election-related issues such as the problems faced by rubber farmers and various Christian communities. He promised to raise the rubber price stabilisation fund to ₹250 and initiate a slew of development projects in Pala.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Kappan and a few State-level leaders of the NCP had tendered their resignation from the party membership. Among those who have joined Mr. Kappan included NCP State secretaries Salim P. Mathew and Babu Thomas, besides the party treasurer Babu Karthikeyan.

Meanwhile, a preliminary meeting of the NCP breakaway faction in the evening decided to float a new outfit with Mr. Kappan as its chairman and Mr. Karthikeyan as convener. It further entrusted a 10-member committee to frame the party constitution and decide on the party flag and related aspects.

The new outfit is slated to constitute district committees by February 28. The members of the new party, which will initially assume the name NCP Kerala, will step down from all the posts awarded by the LDF government, including corporations.

Mr. Kappan, however, will continue to remain as a legislator and contest the next election from Pala as a UDF candidate. “Those demanding my resignation should instead focus on the KC(M) legislators and Parliament members, who had won the elections as UDF candidates,” Mr. Kappan said.

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