Kerala: Fight for 'two leaves' ends up in pineapple

Kerala: Fight for 'two leaves' ends up in pineapple

UDF's Pala by-poll candidate Jose Tom Pulikunnel and the two leaves symbol.

Two leaves had been not just an election symbol for Kerala political stalwart K M Mani, but also a symbol of fortune as Mani managed to win elections even at difficult times with the two leaves symbol.

For this reason, the staunch followers of Mr. Mani were quite upset as the Kerala Congress (M) candidate Jose Tom Pulikunnel, who is trying to retain Mani's 54 year-long legacy at Pala assembly constituency in Kottayam, was denied the two-leaves symbol as a result of the power tussle in the party. Instead, Mr. Pulikunnel would be seeking mandate using the pineapple symbol allotted to him by the Election Commission, considering him as an independent candidate.

K M Mani's son and Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani admitted that losing the two-leaves symbol was obviously hurting as his father and founder of Kerala Congress (M) was contesting using the symbol over the last 32 years.

K M Mani, who died in April this year, was Pala's MLA for 54 years, since 1965. From 1987 onwards, K M Mani had contested using the two-leaves symbol. Following a split in the Kerala Congress party, Mr. Mani contested as an independent candidate in 1987 Assembly election using the two-leaves symbol and he won the polls. Thereafter, he made two-leaves his party's official symbol.

Mr. Pulikunnel, who has been formally made the Kerala Congress (M) party's candidates for the Sept 23 by-poll at Pala, was denied the status of party candidate owing to the objection raised by a rival faction in the party led by P J Joseph, who is the party's working chairman.

Mr. Mani's supporters were quite concerned that the loss of the two leaves symbol and the in-fights in the party even cast a shadow over the prospects of Mr. Pulikunnel in the by-poll.