Deepening dilemma of JD-U keeps UDF guessing

Report by: 
P. Sreekumaran
Thiruvananthapuram
24 Dec 2017

The Janata Dal (United) in Kerala is impaled on the horns of a dilemma. The deepening crisis is due mainly to the sharp division on whether to remain in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) or to cross over to the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic front (LDF).
The party is divided into two camps,  led respectively by senior leader M P Veerendra Kumar and former minister KP Mohanan.  While Kumar and his son MV Shreyams Kumar are in a mood to leave the UDF, the rival faction is not in favour of the party joining the LDF. KP Mohanan and other JD(U) leaders like Sheikh Harris want the party to stay in the UDF.   
The schism in the party came out nto the open with Veerendra Kumar announcing his decision to resign his Rajya Sabha membership. While announcing his decision, Kumar also said that the final decision on the party’s future course of action will be taken at the State Council meeting of the party to be held later this month.
The recently-held meeting of the JD(U)’s state  office-bearers and district presidents had authorized Kumar to hold talks with former JD(U) national resident Sharad Yadav on the political options before the state unit.  The state unit of the JD(U) has been facing a crisis of confidence ever since it parted ways with the central leadership in protest against  Nitish Kumar’s decision to  join hands with the BJP in Bihar.
That Veerendra Kumar is unhappy about the attitude of the UDF towards the JD(U) is an open secret. He has not forgiven the Congress leadership for its failure to take action against the party leaders who campaigned against him in the Lok Sabha election from Palakkad constituency.
In a move which reveals the state of his mind, Kumar has stayed away from the UDF rally held to mark the completion of leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala’s ‘Padayorukkam’. Kumar’s absence is being attributed to his total disillusionment with the Congress leadership over the shabby treatment meted out to the JD(U) in general and to him in particular.
Understandably, Kumar’s hostile mood has kept the Congress-led UDF on tenterhooks. Though they publicly claim that he JD(U) won’t leave the UDF, in private they do not rule out such a denouement.
Meanwhile, in a significant development, the CPI(M) has signalled its intent to have a dialogue with the JD(U).The two-day meeting of the CPI(M) state secretariat, which was attended by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat,  discussed the matter.
The CPI(M) has not taken a unilateral decision because it is not sure whether the JD(U) will decide to quit the UDF and join the LDF. That is why it has decided to await the outcome of the JD(U) state council meeting later this month.
The CPI(M) has welcomed Veerendra Kumar’s decision to quit his Rajya Sabha membership. The decision has created a climate conducive for a dialogue with the JD(U), CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said.
In another development, the Janata Dal(S), which is a constituent of the LDF, has ruled out merger with the JD(U). JD(S) leader Mathew T Thomas made it very clear that the party does not want to  lose its identity, adding that Veerendra Kumar must first decide whether the JD(U) will quit the UDF or stay with the front.
The ball, therefore, is in the court of Veerendra Kumar. But, given the current mood in the JD(U), a decision favouring a cross-over to the LDF is unlikely. The million dollar question is: will Kumar announce his decision to hop over to the LDF. In case he takes such a decision, the JD(U) could head for a vertical split. (IPA)