A section of Jubilee legislators are wooing former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth to be DP William Ruto's running mate in 2022.
The leaders, mainly from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley regions, dismissed claims of an imminent split in the party over President Uhuru Kenyatta's succession. But they admitted that the party was facing "challenges" arising from the handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The more than 20 MPs, senators and governors, who spoke in Eldoret yesterday, said Mr Kenneth was a formidable force in consolidating support for the Deputy President's bid to succeed President Kenyatta.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi fired the first salvo when he asked Mr Kenneth, who contested for the presidency in 2013 and Nairobi governor's seat last year, to throw his weight behind Mr Ruto and facilitate a smooth succession.
"Just like the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, we want to see Mr Kenneth shaking hands with the DP.
"As MPs from Central Kenya, we are solidly behind Mr Ruto's presidential candidature in 2022 and we are appealing to Mr Kenneth to support him," said Mr Nduati.
He made the remarks during a funds drive in aid of five churches at Kaptinga, Kapseret Constituency, represented by MP Oscar Sudi, a staunch ally of the DP.
The MPs from Central region, who included Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Irungu Kang'ata (Senator, Murang'a), Kindiki Kithure (Senator, Tharaka Nithi), called for a coalition between Jubilee and Mr Kenneth's KNC party ahead of the 2022 elections.
"As a community, we are firmly loyal to President Kenyatta and his deputy. If elections were held today, Mr Ruto would win with a landslide," said Mr Kuria, while urging Mr Kenneth to join Jubilee.
Last week, a section of leaders from Mount Kenya East region vowed to support Mr Ruto in his bid for the presidency on condition that he picks a running-mate from the region. This has continued to spark political intrigues.
The leaders were rooting for Senator Kindiki to become Mr Ruto's running mate. They asked leaders from the larger Mount Kenya region to support the duo.
"Already, we have fronted Prof Kindiki, who has worked with the DP for a long time, to be his running mate in 2022," said Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki.
But speaking during the Eldoret meeting, the Rift Valley and Central Kenya leaders claimed that Mr Odinga was causing conflict in Jubilee to undermine Mr Ruto and scheme for his own 2022 candidature.
"We want to see the handshake being extended across the political divide," said Senator Kang'ata.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen claimed that Mr Odinga has set a trap for Jubilee to disintegrate before 2022.
Meanwhile, Mr Ruto yesterday said the allegations that Jubilee is divided were being perpetuated by "tribal chiefs" who are used to divisive politics.
He spoke in Narok South Constituency during interdenominational prayers, accompanied by governors Samuel Tunai (Narok), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja and a host of MPs from Bomet and Narok.
Speaking separately, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale also denied claims of a split in Jubilee.
Additional reporting by George Sayagie, DPPs, and Abdimalik Hajir