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  OPINION  
     
 
   
  Merger business
     
  Opportunists join hands  
     
  WHAT Kerala witnessed on May 27 when the K.M. Mani and P.J. Joseph factions of the Kerala Congress merged is the height of political opportunism. Former PWD minister Joseph has not been able to explain to the people why after remaining a part of the Left Democratic Front for more than two and a half decades, he suddenly felt the need to merge his outfit in Mani' party.

Of course, Keralites know only too well what prompted him to join hands with his once arch rival. He thought the CPM-led LDF was a sinking ship from which a rat like him should escape to keep himself politically alive.

Since Joseph was unlikely to be welcomed into the Congress-led United Democratic Front, the only option available to him was to find a backdoor entry by merging his party with the Mani group, already a constituent of the UDF. This can only be described as cynical, opportunistic, selfish and unethical.

At the merger rally at Kottayam, Mani exulted that the coming together of the two parties would strengthen the UDF, a perception few share. One reason why the LDF became a "sinking ship" was the presence of a leader like Joseph as its minister.

For the UDF whose cadres had faced police lathis and teargas shells while protesting against the LDF's policies, it would be difficult to believe that after he quit the LDF, Joseph would add to the UDF's strength. In fact, his unholy "arrival" in the UDF undermines its own campaign against the LDF.

That is why almost every party in the UDF from the Congress to the R. Balakrishna Pillai-led Kerala Congress protested against the merger move. At the same time, they know that if the Kerala Congress is shown the door, it will have to pay a heavy price because there can be no denying that the Kerala Congress enjoys a measure of support among the Christians and Nairs in what was once the mid-Travancore region.

So, despite all its protests against the merger, the UDF will ultimately treat it as an internal affair of a constituent party and keep quiet.

But, let there be no mistaking, Mani and Joseph are in for the long haul as they want to bargain for a larger share of seats in the next elections and emerge, possibly, as the second largest party in the UDF, replacing the Muslim League from that slot.

In other words, it is a season of political opportunism in Kerala!
 
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