Senior AICC member and former union minister KV Thomas, who has been at loggerheads with the party’s state leadership, on Wednesday said he would campaign for the ruling LDF candidate Jo Joseph in the upcoming by-poll in the Thrikkakara Assembly constituency, but reiterated that he would not quit the Congress.
Addressing a press conference here, he said he would participate in the CPI(M)-led LDF’s election convention, to be attended by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, here as part of the campaign and challenged the Congress leadership to oust him from the party.
He said he would also cooperate with the other campaign programmes of the Left candidate in the coming days for the election, scheduled on May 31.
”I am always a Congressman… I will neither quit the Congress nor join any other party. I am taking part in the LDF’s poll campaign also as a Congressman,” Thomas said.
Justifying his action, the senior Congress leader said he was a person who always took a stand for the development and in Thrikkakara also his position was the same.
The success or failure of the Left candidate would not make any change in my pro-development stand, he explained.
He also claimed that he was not the first person campaigning for the Left party from the Congress.
Thomas cited examples of former chief ministers K Karunakaran and A K Antony who had cooperated with the Left at some point of their political career.
Unleashing a scathing attack against the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and the party’s state leaders, he alleged there was a deliberate attempt to kick him out of the party since 2018.
In a veiled attack against KPCC President K Sudhakaran, Thomas described those indulging in social media campaign against him as a ”paid team” led by certain leaders.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, last month, had approved the disciplinary panel’s recommendations which was of the view that Thomas should be removed from the state political affairs committee and the executive committee of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
The disciplinary committee’s decision came on a complaint sent by Sudhakaran seeking action against Thomas for attending the CPI(M) party congress held in Kannur in April despite a direction by the party not to.
Thomas had defended his decision to attend the CPI(M) event, saying he decided to go as he was threatened that if he did, he would be out of the party.
The veteran Congress leader not only attended the event, against party wishes, he had in his speech lavished praise on Vijayan and his administrative capabilities and developmental agenda and also extended his whole-hearted support to the Left government’s SilverLine semi-high-speed rail corridor project, which is being strenuously opposed by the Congress.
Meanwhile, Thomas’s announcement that he would campaign for the LDF triggered sharp reactions as AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal made it clear that action would be taken against the leader. Noting that the PCCs have the power to initiate action against those who work against the party candidates in elections, he said here the KPCC can decide on the action to be taken against Thomas, which would be endorsed by the AICC.
He also termed as ‘funny,’ Thomas’ statement that he would remain a Congress man and work for the CPI(M).
The Congress candidate Uma Thomas, who recently expressed confidence that Thomas would not campaign for the CPI (M), on Wednesday declined to comment on the latest development saying she is busy with the campaigning and the party leadership would react to it. While Congress picked Uma Thomas, widow of late Congress leader and MLA P T Thomas whose death necessitated the by-election, as the candidate, LDF chose Dr Jo Joseph, a prominent cardiologist, as its nominee and BJP decided to field its state vice-president A N Radhakrishnan.
As the UDF tries to retain its numbers in the Assembly and the LDF attempts to increase theirs to 100, the BJP — which does not have a single seat — would be hoping to be represented in the state Assembly.