Election Commission has recognised a faction led by P C Thomas as "Kerala Congress (Anti-merger Group)" and allowed it to use any of the free symbols for the April 13 assembly polls in Kerala.
The Commission also froze the "bicycle" symbol reserved for the Kerala Congress headed by P J Joseph whose group merged with Kerala Congress (M), a Congress ally.
Before the merger last year, Joseph faction was with the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala. But Thomas, who was a prominent leader in the Joseph group, opposed the merger with Kerala Congress (M) and decided to stay with the LDF.
"The pro-merger group led by P J Joseph is free to contest election on the symbol of the party, which they have joined -- Kerala Congress (M)," the EC said.
In an order passed yesterday, the full commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said that the commission made this interim arrangement pending final disposal of the matter after the ongoing elections.
The order said that the Commission "cannot come to a conclusive determination" that the Kerala Congress followed the principle laid down by the Supreme Court while taking the decision to merge with the Kerala Congress (M).
"The matter, therefore, needs to be examined further", the Commission said and added that in view of the assembly polls process already set in motion, it was "not in a position to decide the issue finally at present."
In view of the assembly elections in the state, the Commission held a meeting with both anti and pro merger groups on March 21.
The main points which emerged at the meeting were (I) Out of the four MLAs in the assembly elected on the reserved on the "bicycle" of Kerala Congress in 2006, three were in favour of merger and only one left with the anti-merger group.
It was also not clearly coming out that the resolutions passed on April 30 meeting were taken in accordance with the prescribed procedure in the party constitution, the EC said.