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T.M. Jacob to sit on Opposition benches

Special Correspondent

His decades-long association with UDF comes to an end


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Congress (Jacob) has decided to sit in the Opposition bench in the coming Assembly session, putting an end to his decades-long association with the UDF.

The party leader, T M Jacob, today wrote to the Speaker, Therambil Ramakrishnan, informing him about his party's decision to sit in the Opposition bench. He requested the Speaker to allot his party a slot in the opposition block. According to KC (Jacob) sources, Mr. Ramakrishnan confirmed the receipt of the letter.

Mr. Jacob's formal request to the Speaker seeking a berth in the Opposition bench was only a matter of time as he had announced his decision to quit the UDF the other day. His bad days began with the advent of Mr. Oommen Chandy as the Chief Minister and the latter's decision to exclude him from the Cabinet. Mr. Jacob apparently took his own time in quitting the front and went through, what he calls, the process of showing decency and observing political procedures before officially taking the plunge. He wrote to the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, protesting against his inexplicable exclusion from the Chandy Cabinet. He rais

ed the issue in the few UDF meetings he happened to attend after the leadership change.

The split in the Congress and the formation of the National Congress (I) by K. Karunakaran has virtually opened a political avenue for Mr. Jacob. One of the first things he did in the changed context was to cement his relations with Mr. Karunakaran. The two leaders even pondered over the possibilities of the Kerala Congress (Jacob) merging with the NC (I), but the issue was shelved for tactical reasons. Instead, the two decided to work closely. The decision to sit in the Opposition should be viewed in the context of the tactical difficulties faced by MLAs supporting Mr. Karunakaran. Mr. Jacob and his colleague, Johnny Nellore, would in effect function as the unofficial NC (I) nominees in the Assembly, it seems.

The proceedings of the Assembly, as and when it meets, would become lively now that Mr. Jacob would bring into play his vast knowledge of legislative practice when he launches his promised attacks against the Government. Mr. Jacob's party had been a permanent fixture in the UDF and the frequent splits in the Kerala Congress factions hardly had any effect on his position. A leader who harbours strong anti-Marxist positions, it would be interesting to watch how Mr. Jacob re-positions himself in Kerala politics in the coming days.

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