Kappan rules out NCP return, but rumors swirl about him entering cabinet

Kottayam: AK Saseendran’s days in the Pinarayi Vijayan ministry are likely to be numbered if his former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) colleague Mani C Kappan returns.

However, Kappan has ruled out a return to the NCP and has vowed to stay with the opposition bloc United Democratic Front (LDF), but rumors of a return and replacement for Saseendran are flying in political circles.

Kappan had left the ruling political alliance, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) almost a year ago, just before the assembly elections.

Reports say Kappan, the Pala lawmaker, was offered a cabinet seat after replacing Saseendran, the sole NCP minister in the state.

“It is true that I had met the leader of the NCP, Sharad Pawar. But there was no discussion about my return to the NCP or the LDF. I told him about some problems within the UDF I will stay with the UDF,” Kappan said on Tuesday.

Saseendran’s fate?

Is the national leadership of the NCP in favor of Kappan’s return? Would you mind sacrificing the veteran politician Saseendran to accommodate the resourceful Kappan?

Saseendran’s position was never stable, either due to his own follies or due to factional pressures within the NCP.

In March 2017, Saseendran had to resign as Transport Minister of Kerala in the first Pinarayi Vijayan government due to allegations of a sordid conversation on the phone with an unidentified woman. Later, he was re-enthroned, but faced lobbying from the rival NCP faction.

Always firmly with the left

Saseendran represented Elathur Constituency in Kozhikode District in the Assembly for three consecutive terms. A member of the NCP’s national working committee, the 76-year-old served as a member of the Legislative Assembly after winning elections in 1980, 1982, 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021.

He entered politics through the Kerala Students’ Union, the student wing of the Congress, and became the state chairman of the Youth Congress. He was part of the Congress faction led by AK Antony that shifted to the left camp in 1980.

In 1981, when the split faction returned to Congress withdrawing its support for the EK Nayanar ministry, Saseendran remained firmly on the left front.

He has been in the left camp for about four decades, and the ministerial post offered to him when the LDF returned to power in 2016 was seen as a reward for his unwavering loyalty.

He made his Assembly debut in 1980 after being elected from the former Assembly constituency of Peringalam as an LDF candidate. He was one of six MPs to vehemently oppose Antony’s decision to withdraw his support for the Nayanar-led coalition government in 1981.

In 1982, he won the former Edakkad Assembly constituency on a Congress (S) ticket. However, he suffered consecutive losses in Kannur constituency in 1987 and 1991.

In 2001, when Sharad Pawar separated from Congress and formed the NCP, the Congress (S) merged with the latter.

The days to come will tell if Saseendran will have to sacrifice his position for a former party colleague.

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