The Kerala unit of the Congress on Thursday decided to allot its lone Rajya Sabha seat to the Kerala Congress (Mani) in an effort to bring the estranged party back into the United Democratic Front a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Senior Congress leader PJ Kurien, who currently holds the seat, will complete his second straight term in the Rajya Sabha on July 1. He was reportedly also being considered for renomination.

The decision to allot the seat to Kerala Congress (Mani) was taken following a discussion with Congress President Rahul Gandhi, PTI reported.

State Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the chief of the Kerala unit of the Congress, MM Hassan, said the decision was taken to strengthen the United Democratic Front ahead of the 2019 General Elections. The Kerala Congress (Mani), one of Congress’ oldest allies in the state, had split from the United Democratic Front two years ago over differences following the bar bribery scam.

Several senior leaders, however, were unhappy with the decision, and six MLAs wrote to Gandhi expressing their displeasure, PTI reported.

Former president of the Kerala unit of the Congress, VM Sudheeran, called it a suicidal decision that would only destroy his party. “No party worker can accept this and it was totally unexpected,” he said. “The party should not have surrendered its pride to KC(M) to bring it back to the front.”

PJ Kurien said, “This is a surrender of the Congress.” He also blamed Chandy for orchestrating this move. Referring to some Youth Congress MLAs who had opposed his renomination to the Upper House, Kurien said, “I have told the party that even if I am not considered, the seat should be held by the Congress itself as there are many eligible leaders who can be nominated to the upper House.”