The Indian Union Muslim League on Wednesday declared national general secretary and Vengara MLA PK Kunhalikutty as its candidate for the Malappuram Lok Sabha by-election.
The announcement was made by IUML state president Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal in Panakkad.
The final decision to field Kunhalikutty as the candidate came after a meeting of senior leaders in the IUML and its ally, the Congress, in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. Congress had earlier reportedly requested IUML to rethink fielding Kunhalikutty in the upcoming by-poll.
Thangal told media in Panakkad that though Kunhalikutty is entering national politics, he would still be active in state affairs. Kunhalikutty said that he would be following the path of E Ahmed, former MP of Malappuram.
With Kunhalikitty being fielded for the Lok Sabha seat, he will have to quit as Vengara MLA, which will leave the assembly seat vacant.
As per reports, the IUML is considering state general secretary KPA Majeed, other prominent leaders like KNA Khader and Abdurehman Randathani for the Vengara seat.
The Malappuram parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of former Union Minister E Ahamed on February 1. He was one of the longest serving parliamentarians from Kerala for 26 years, having been an MP seven times.
Kunhalikutty, whose hometown is Malappuram, was elected as the national general secretary in the party‚Äôs national executive meet held in Chennai on February 26. His experience, party leaders believe, makes him a suitable choice to replace Ahmed.
Kunhalikutty, 65, has been a legislator since 1982 and the state Industries Minister for more than 14 years.
His only electoral defeat in assembly elections came in 2006 when he was defeated by present Local Self Governments Minister K.T. Jaleel.
Malappuram goes to polls on April 12.
(With IANS inputs)