KC(M) wrests dist panchayat prez post from Cong with CPI-M

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Triggering speculation on the possibility of an alliance, Kerala Congress (M) nominee Zakharias Kuthiravelil was elected the president of Kottayam district panchayat with the CPM's support on Wednesday.

Kerala Congress-Mani candidate Zacharias Kuthiraveli won the post of Kottayam district panchayat President on Wednesday after Mani accepted Communist Party of India-Marxist support.

CPI (M) with six elected members supported the KC (M) nominee while a lone representative of CPI in the council abstained from voting.

KC (M), which fought the panchayat elections held two years ago as an ally of the UDF, are having six elected representatives.Another member belonging to a group led by Poonjar MLA P C George made her vote invalid.

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As per the agreement made during he last local body elections, the Congress and the KC (M) are expected to share the five-year term equally and swap the position two and a half years into the term.

It was learnt that the BJP national president Amit Shah had directed the state leadership to bring KC (M) to the NDA fold.The CPM, now by its support in Kottayam, has halted, perhaps temporarily, Mani's progress towards the NDA camp.Meanwhile, the Congress was yet to recover from the shock.

After being a UDF constituent for four decades, the KC (M) quit in August past year, alleging that the Congress was trying to weaken the party.

Calling Mani's step as a big fraud, George said Kerala Congress was heading for a split.

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The Congress-leadership headed by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala termed as "betrayal" Mani's decision "to go with CPI (M)".

However, this new move is facing stiff opposition from within the party itself, as such a move could land the KC (M) in a no-man's land, senior leaders believe. "If KC (M) wants to join CPM, they can". "But Mani violated the agreement", he said. The decision was taken by party leaders Mani and his son and MP Jose K Mani.

"There is strong opposition among P J Joseph group but he is not showing the guts to state that openly".

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