‘Congress serving Malampuzha on a plate to BJP’: Cong workers protest in Palakkad

The UDF ally slated to get Malampuzha seat is Bharathiya National Janata Dal (BNJD), an unrecognised party and a splinter group of Janata Dal.
Oommen chandy Mani kappan Chennithala
Oommen chandy Mani kappan Chennithala

Congress leaders in Palakkad are at loggerheads with their party, alleging that the latter is ‘serving the Malampuzha seat on a platter’ to the BJP. This as the party seems to have decided on offering the Malampuzha constituency in Palakkad to a weak ally - the Bharatiya National Janata Dal or the BNJD.

A quick search of the BJND reveals that it is an unrecognised party albeit a UDF ally, and a splinter group of the Janata Dal. The BNJD is almost unheard of in the state and is led by a man named VM Gajera, who has 260 followers on Twitter.

Protests broke out in the district on Friday night and Saturday, with Congress and youth Congress leaders stating that they will quit the party if the seat is given to BNJD. Congress leaders in Malampuzha’s Pudussery raised slogans such as ‘There is nobody for the party’ and ‘The party is not against anything’ while marching against the high command decision.

Palakkad municipality is controlled by the BJP, clinching 28 seats out of the total 52 seats which went to polls in the municipality. Even in the 2016 Assembly election, the BJP came second in Malampuzha after their candidate C Krishnakumar polled 46,157 votes, behind CPI(M) VS Achuthanandan at 73, 299 votes. Congress candidate VS Joy came third with 35,333 votes.

This time too, the BJP is likely to field Krishnakumar from Malampuzha and fielding a weak ally is akin to giving away the seat to the BJP, say district leaders. Apart from Malampuzha, the Congress has offered Alathur, Kongad, Mannarkad and Nenmara in Palakkad too to its allies. The Congress has offered Nenmara seat to the The Communist Marxist Party (CMP) and candidate is CN Vijayakrishnan. Mannarkkad assembly seat had been held by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) since 2011, with MLA N Samsudheen winning the last two elections with a 49 percent vote share.

Protesting the decision, Palakkad District Congress Committee Secretary Krishnankutty alleged that the party was ‘selling seats’ in the state.

“For three crores they have sold Kongad, Nenmara for five crores. We do not know how much Malampuzha is being sold for. How many seats are they going to sell in Kerala? I am going to raise Chennithala Zindabad. Otherwise he will sell the whole state,” Krishnankutty posted on Facebook.

Critics have compared the move to offer Malampuzha seat to the party’s decision to give away Nemom to an ally in the 2016 assembly elections. The UDF offered Nemom to Janata Dal (United), an ally, and Nemom is now a sitting seat of the BJP in Kerala, after O Rajagopal won with a thumping majority of 67,813 votes. Critics allege that the Congress helped the BJP win by fielding JD(U)’s V Surendran Pillai who only won 13, 860 votes. 

“There is stiff opposition against the decision in Palakkad. Leaders here are hoping that the high command will change its decision,”a senior Congress leader tells TNM. He adds that “there were probably no other seats to the offer to the ally, and therefore Malampuzha may have been offered with full knowledge that the party will lose the seat.”

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