He says the party is the third most influential in the UDF

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday defended the opinion of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], that Kerala Congress (M) [KC(M)] was a party with a support base.

Mr Balakrishnan had merely observed that KC(M) had a measure of popular support and could be ranked third in the United Democratic Front (UDF) after the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).

Mr Vijayan refused to elaborate on whether Mr Balakrishnan’s article in the Deshabhimani newspaper was a veiled invitation for the embattled Jose K. Mani faction of the KC(M) to defect to the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

The CM also declined to be drawn into a public discussion about the statement of Kanam Rajendran, the State secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), that the LDF was not in the business of throwing a lifeline for persons facing political trouble in other parties.

Mr Balakrishnan’s op-ed page article was widely viewed as a bellwether of the CPI(M)’s attitude towards the KC(M). It had triggered intense speculation the LDF would open its doors for Mr Mani who faced the prospect of ejection from the UDF. The alliance had recently excluded him from its leadership meetings.

The CM refuted the charge of Ramesh Chennithala, the Opposition Leader, that his administration had allowed a global consultancy to set up shop in the Secretariat in a sly move to privatise governance. “You would know if the firm opens an office in the Secretariat,” he told reporters at his COVID-19 news briefing.

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