Congress-led UDF splits in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF on Sunday split as the Kerala Congress (Mani) quit the coalition after blaming a section of the Congress leadership for the assembly election rout. "Better late than never. This should have happened before. Please allow us to leave. We are leaving without cursing anyone," party leader and former Finance Minister K.M. Mani told the media near Thiruvalla. He said his party was not aligning with the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "We will sit as a separate block in the Kerala assembly and in parliament where we have two members. We will extend our support based on issues," he added. Mani said his party won't create "a crisis in governance" in local bodies. For the past two days, the leadership of the Kerala Congress (Mani) was involved in internal discussions over its future with the United Democratic Front (UDF). Mani's party has been an ally of the UDF since 1982. Even after the Kerala Congress broke up, Mani had remained with the Congress. Mani has been a legislator since 1967 and has presented 13 state budgets. With his departure, the UDF's strength in the 140-member house will slide from 47 to 41. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy described Mani's decision as "painful".