The massive win of P K Kunhalikutty, the strongman of Indian Union Muslim League in all the seven assembly seats in the by-poll held in Malappuram, a UDF or precisely, an IUML bastion, necessitated by the demise of E Ahamed, isn’t unexpected or shocking.
It can also be said that Kunhalikutty had a shortage of around 25000 votes to break the record of his predecessor E Ahamed. Since the Left Front candidate, the opponent of E Ahamed was weaker, the LDF was cautious in fielding a comparatively stronger young candidate against Kunhalikutty. It might be the reason why they were able to secure more than a lakh votes compared to the previous election. In this backdrop, while the Malappuram results could surely boost the morale of the UDF, it couldn’t be deemed as a heavy setback for the LDF. However, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the CPM state Secretary, during the election campaign had said that the outcome would be an indicator of the performances of the Central and State governments. M B Faizal, the LDF candidate could only bag votes lesser than the total votes secured by the Left candidates in the Assembly elections in 2016. In that case, the poll result should then be seen as an indicator of the public displeasure in the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government.
This also means that the people shares the same views as Kanam Rajendran, secretary of the CPI, the second biggest ally in the ruling Front, who pointed out the drawbacks. In whatever manner the CPM-CPI disputes and controversies end, the image of the government is likely to get more tarnished if appropriate steps aren’t taken to rectify the mistakes. The claims of the failed LDF candidate Faizal that it was the communal polarisation of Muslims that was witnessed in Malappuram, cannot be justified factually. It’s clear that Kunhalikutty’s spectacular win is a result of the party, seeing it as a matter of self-respect, unleashing an aggressive campaign in the constituencies that has forever been a stronghold of Muslim League as well as the Congress the chief ally of the UDF, putting aside all differences and stepping in, contrary to the norm. Expecting such a triumph as well as due to the absence of any particular significance, small parties like the SDPI and Welfare Party did not take part in the election. There is also no proof of their supporters casting their vote only for a single party. On the other hand, the PDP overtly backed the Left Front. So how then does the matter of polarisation arise?
If any kind of communal polarisation had occurred in Malappuram, the number of votes secured by the NDA candidate Sree Prakash, in the changing circumstances, would have increased. The NDA candidate this time, received only 970 votes more than the number of votes bagged by the BJP candidate in 2014. Thushar Vellappally’s BDJS despite being an ally of the NDA had no effect on the vote share. The fact that this is lesser than the 73, 447 votes received by the NDA candidates in the 2016 assembly election, is also relevant. The not-so-ok setback in Malappuram comes amidst the rampant claims of the mesmerising leadership of Narendra Modi, the party’s landmark victory in the UP election and the BJP candidates securing wins even in Muslim majority constituencies. In Malappuram, the majority community of the country constitutes a minority population. If their votes have been polarised, then the result would have been reflected in the poll. Not only did it happen, the UDF candidate who publicly called for the unity of the secular parties and minority communities against Fascist forces, was able to score a huge victory. The LDF had also presented Modi and extreme right wing as the main foe all through the campaign.
Given that Kunhalikutty, the undeniable leader of the IUML and the party’s national general secretary, has secured a huge win, he could be expected to be aware of the seriousness of his responsibility. During the present cynical times, when the nation rapidly spirals down into authoritarianism and Fascism, he has made clear that his prime duty was to function at the national level for the harmony of religious minorities and secular democratic forces in order to stop the further crisis. Surely, he won’t be alone in his path. Given that similar favourable voices are being heard from within the Congress, secular parties and the Left Front, people believe that Kunhalikutty who had proved his expertise in political approaches and tactics, is capable of constructive strides within and outside the Parliament. Madhyamam wishes him all the very best in his new endeavour.