The fight over the election symbol ‘Two Leaves’ between the two factions of Kerala Congress (M) may lead to a local body election without featuring the official symbol of the party. The state election commission today froze the use of the symbol following legal disputes between the two factions. Commission has allocated Chenda (Drum) to the Joseph faction and table fan to the Mani faction to use as the symbols to compete in the local body elections.

The dispute broke out over the official symbol of Kerala Congress (M) days back to the by-poll at Pala constituency in September 2019 following the death of the party chairman K M Mani. Then party Chairman P J Joseph refused to allocate the official symbol to the UDF candidate representing the Jose K Mani faction of the party. Following this, the UDF candidate Tom Pulikkunnell was forced to contest with the ‘pineapple’ symbol in the by-election, in which he lost to the LDF rival, Mani C Kappan.

The tussle between the two factions had even worsened following the by-election. Jose K Mani’s group has disputed the claim of Joseph group as the official group to use the symbol before the central election commission. In August this year, the commission allocated the official symbol to the Jose K Mani faction. The commission observed that the Jose K Mani faction is enjoying a majority both in party and legislative. They have observed that the group led by Jose K Mani is the Kerala Congress (Mani) and is entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol Two Leaves,” for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.’

The Joseph group has challenged the decision by the election commission legally. Meanwhile, the Jose K Mani faction was expelled from the UDF and they have joined the left front recently. The state election commission took the decision to temporarily freeze the symbol considering the pending case in the Kerala High Court. The symbol will be allocated to the group which would win the legal battle in the court.

Jose K Mani has expressed confidence in regaining the symbol winning the legal battle in the court. He said that the argument in the court has been completed and the truth will prevail.