Rival factions of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), which split from the party in 1999, merged here Tuesday in the presence of a huge gathering of their supporters. The merger also raised the ruling United Democratic Front's strength in the assembly to 75.
It was in 1999 that the RSP split, when a section, including Shibhu Baby John, decided to part ways and formed the RSP (B) and became an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.
Leaders like T.J. Chandrachudan and A.A. Azeez and Lok Sabha member N.K. Premachandran decided to be with the Left Democratic Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist and was known as the RSP.
"From now on, we will be known as RSP and we will be part of the UDF, and at the national level we will take a position depending on each issue," Premachandran told IANS soon after the two factions merged.
The ball was set rolling for the two factions to merge just before the recent Lok Sabha polls.
The erstwhile RSP, which was part of the LDF for almost three decades, decided to walk out of the Left alliance in March this year after the CPI-M arbitrarily announced the candidature of politburo member and sitting legislator M.A. Baby for the Kollam Lok Sabha seat.
And soon came the Congress offer to the RSP, with a rider that it will give its sitting seat at Kollam to the RSP on a condition that the rival factions should merge after the Lok Sabha polls. And that is what happened Tuesday.
At the polls, Premachandran defeated Baby and soon the two legislators of the erstwhile RSP gave a letter to Kerala assembly speaker G.Karthikeyan that they should be given seats on the treasury benches. This was promptly done.
With this, the strength of the RSP in the assembly has gone to three and the Oommen Chandy government's tally has risen to 75 in the 140-member Kerala assembly.
"We are thankful to both CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan (both of them had ridiculed the RSP and its leaders on numerous occasions during the election campaign period) for making this merger happen," said State Labour Minister Shibhu Baby John, who was the live wire behind the merger.
RSP national general secretary Chandrachudan, speaking at the merger meeting, slammed both the CPI-M and the CPI.
"Just a change in the policies of the CPI-M won't help. Instead those who lead the party here should change. The cadres of that party should think, if they still want Vijayan to be their leader here," Chandrachudan said.
Tuesday's meeting also decided to hold the RSP party plenum in six months' time.