New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) will inquire into claims made by rival factions of Kerala Congress (Mani) and decide who represents the original party. According to sources, the EC would issue a notice in the next few days to the rival faction led by former minister and party working chairman PJ Joseph seeking a reply within three weeks.

Jose K Mani, Rajya Sabha member and son of KC(M) founder KM Mani, had petitioned the EC that he was leading the original party and he should be allowed to use its two leaves symbol and flag, the sources said. Majority of KC(M) office-bearers, state committee members (total 437), MPs (2) and MLAs (5) supported him and he was elected as party chairman in June, after KM Mani's death in April, Jose Mani claimed. He should be declared as head of the official KC (M), he pleaded.

Jose Mani told PTI that he was confident that the EC would decide in his favour as a majority of the party office-bearers were with him. The feud between Jose Mani-PJ Joseph factions escalated to such a level that in the recent by-poll to the Pala Assembly seat, represented by KM Mani since 1965, the KC(M) candidate lost to LDF nominee as he was not allocated the party's symbol. Pala is in Kottayam district. 

KC(M) is the third largest partner of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The Congress tried to bring peace between the two factions and could not succeed so far. After KM Mani's death Jose Mani anointed himself as the new chairman antagonising PJ Joseph.

With PTI inputs