Majeed had stepped back in the initial phase itself of candidature discussions, citing organisational responsibilities.

Keralas Vengara bye-poll Why IUMLs Majeed stepped back and Khader was made candidate
news Politics Monday, September 18, 2017 - 20:47

The bye-election of Vengara constituency in Kerala necessitated by the victory of PK Kunhalikutty - the legislator who was representing it, to the Lok Sabha, has evoked a rather lukewarm response in the politically vibrant state.

Being a stronghold of the Indian Union Muslim League, its political rivals don’t expect to win over the voters, but are aiming to increase their vote share. There was no surprise or any dramatic twist, which a political observer would love to see, after the names of the candidates were announced by the two major fronts. The candidate for the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is PP Basheer of the CPI (M) while the opposition IUML has fielded its district secretary KNA Khader.

The bye-poll is scheduled for October 11 and the last date for filing nominations is September 22. BJP is yet to declare its candidate for Vengara bye-election which falls under Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency.

The seat fell vacant after Kunhalikutty won the Malappuram bye-poll in April which was held following the death of E Ahamed, who was a veteran leader of IUML.

Kunhalikutty had won from Vengara in the 2016 Assembly elections with a majority of 38,057 votes. PP Basheer was Kunhalikutty’s opponent in the last year’s assembly election as well and IUML is expecting nothing less than a majority of 30,000 votes in this year’s bye-polls also. 

IUML is the second largest party in the United Democratic Front (UDF), which is in opposition in the state, led by the Congress. The Muslim political party has a strong presence in the northern districts of the state including Malappuram. PP Basheer was picked up by the CPI (M) to take on the IUML candidate considering his image in the constituency. Basheer is a familiar face in Vengara where CPI (M) doesn’t claim to have too many popular leaders. There were speculations that the IUML will field its senior leader KPA Majeed who is the state general secretary of the party or UA Latheef who is the party’s state secretary.

Majeed, however had stepped back in the initial phase itself of candidature discussions, citing organisational responsibilities. However, according to sources, the fear of failure prompted him to step back from the contest. “Most of the party cadres of IUML have affinity to the Sunni faction while Majeed supports Mujahid faction. On the surface, most of the party workers don’t disagree with him, but deep inside he is not supported by many. IUML doesn’t want to lose the seat at any cost and would consider it as a setback if the majority is less than 30,000 votes,” a source said.

Majeed was unavailable for comment. Latheef was made party’s Malappuram district secretary as Khader has given the party ticket to contest the election. “In IUML, the post of Malappuram district secretary is seen as more prominent than the party’s state secretary. Therefore, we can’t say that Latheef was downgraded from the state secretary post to district secretary,” the source added.

Khader is a former legislator who had represented Vallikkunnu constituency in Malappuram in the previous UDF government’s tenure from 2011-16. He was denied a seat in 2016 Assembly elections, which he was sad about. Vengara constituency was formed in 2008 after the delimitation of Assembly constituencies.

The constituency witnessed the return of IUML’ heavyweight Kunhalikutty’s to active politics. Kunhalikiutty, whose image was tainted after he was named as an accused in the sensational Ice Cream Parlour sex scandal, lost the election in 2006 to his former party colleague KT Jaleel. Jaleel, who is currently a minister, had been expelled from IUML and contested as a CPI (M) independent in 2006. That was the first election debacle in the career of Kunhalikutty, IUML’s strongest leader.

In 2011 assembly elections, Kunhalikutty won from Vengara with a clear margin which also marked the resurgence of IUML in the state’s politics.  Kunhalikutty won the election with a majority of 38,237 votes. The constituency extends to Malappuram, Thirurangadi and Thanur and has Vengara, Kannamangalam, Oorakam, Parappur, Othukkungal under it. In 2016, when UDF lost the election, with many of its popular figures tasting failure, Vengara strongly stood with the right front. UDF rules five out of the six panchayats here. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, E Ahamed had got a majority of 42,632 votes, which was highest in the district, from Vengara.

In the Malappuram Lok Sabha bye-elections, Kunhalikutty had got a majority of 40,529 votes from the constituency.

Basheer increased the vote share of the Left to 34,124 in 2016 Assembly elections from 24,901 votes in 2011. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, PK Sainaba of the CPI (M) got only 17,691 votes from Vengara while in the Lok Sabha bye-poll, the party's vote share had increased to 33,275 votes.

In 2016, BJP's candidate PT Ali Haji had won by 3,417 votes.



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