KOCHI: A meeting of the leaders of the Indian National League (INL), an alliance partner of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), took an ugly turn when two sections of the workers entered into a streetfight in Kochi on Sunday, triggering the split in the regional party.
Following the clashes, INL state president A P Abdul Wahab and general secretary Kasim Irikoor — the leaders of two factions — expelled each other from the party, resulting in a vertical split of the party.
Earlier in the day, the police arrested five persons, said to be INL workers, on charges of the street brawl and violations in Covid-19 protocol. The police have also registered a case against the owners of SAS Residency Hotel, on Canon Shed Road, near Boat Jetty in Kochi, where the INL meeting was held, for flouting the Covid norms.
The scuffle began at the state committee meeting when Kassim Irikkur declared that two members of the party secretariat have been suspended. There were allegations that the party leadership had ‘sold’ the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) member post for money. The allegations had culminated in the party leadership initiating disciplinary action against some of its functionaries. However, a section of leaders raised objections and state president Abdul Wahad boycotted the meeting.
Police personnel under Assistant Commissioner of Police K Laljy reached the spot and used force to disperse the supporters of the groups involved in the scuffle outside the hotel. Amid the melee, Ahammad Devarkovil, the Minister for Ports, was escorted out of the hotel where the meeting was held violating COVID-19 protocol.
As the State committee meeting ended up in the street fight, the party leadership cancelled the state secretariat meeting, which was scheduled to be held after the state committee.
No one was injured in the street scuffle, police said.