Thiruvananthapuram: After hard bargaining over ministerial posts created strains between them, relations between the Congress and the IUML - the two largest parties in Kerala`s ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) - are again tense after a Congress leader`s criticism.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which has been a part of the UDF since 1985, was irate after state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala last week said it has been the history of the IUML to always demand extra.
An hour after he made the statement at a party meeting, Chennithala sought to clarify that his comment had nothing to do with the present relations between the two parties, but he was just repeating what his predecessor said many years back.
The very next day, IUML`s top brass went into a huddle to discuss the issue and even considered boycotting the weekly cabinet meeting being held every Wednesday, before deciding against the abrupt move.
"Everyone has self-respect and please do not be under the impression that the IUML does not have any other place to go. All in the UDF have equal responsibility towards the UDF dispensation.
"The comments made by a few top Congress leaders (Aryadan Mohammed and K Muraleedharan) were unwarranted...," said a peeved party general secretary KPA Majeed.
He said that they are again meeting on Thursday to take stock of the situation.
Playing down the feud, UDF convenor PPThankachen told reporters that there are no serious issues between the two parties.
However, a Congress leader accused the IUML of resorting to its "time-tested pressure politics".
"The IUML is now again playing its time tested pressure politics as they want their `own` Malappuram district to be bifurcated and they are playing this new trick," said the Congress leader who did not wish to be identified.
The relations between the two parties grew tense after the IUML held out for a fifth cabinet post for their party when the UDF government was formed in April 2012.
In the 140 member Kerala assembly, the UDF has 73 seats with the Congress having 39 and the IUML 20 seats.
Formed in Chennai in 1948, the IUML has always played a role in Kerala politics since then. In 1960, it joined hands with the Congress to form a government but in 1967, they jumped on to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) bandwagon.
In 1970, they again switched sides, joining the government led by the Communist Party of India and the Congress.
In 1980, when the UDF was formed under the leadership of K Karunakaran, the IUML split with one faction joining the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front. However the two factions re-united in 1985 and have been in the UDF since then.