The Pattambi constituency, from where political stalwarts of the Left like EP Gopalan and EMS Namboodiripad were once elected, will see a research scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University contesting on a CPI ticket.
Muhammed Muhsin, a fellow student leader of the JNUSU president, Kanhaiya Kumar, has been in the headlines since the announcement of his candidature. He will square off in the polls against sitting MLA
CP Mohammed of the Congress, who won the last election by a margin of over 12,000 votes.
Like Kanhaiya, Muhsin belong to CPI’s student wing, the All India Students’ Federation (AISF), and is currently the vice president of the AISF unit at JNU.
Though the CPI has lost the Pattambi seat in the last three elections, the party is still a prominent presence in the constituency, and lost in the 2001 and 2006 elections by very narrow margins.
Muhsin, a scholar of adult education, says that the one question he is most frequently asked is whether his experience of student politics makes him eligible to represent a constituency.
“Many prominent leaders have come up through student politics. Some others were excellent leaders without even any prior experience of student politics. I was active here in Pattambi in many cultural and social activities, and in student politics. I have played many roles in the public life of this constituency, so I was not just a student politician here,” Muhsin says.
Muhsin is undoing many of the preconceptions about Kerala politicians and their appearance. While even this election’s celebrity contestants like Jagadish and Mukesh don the obligatory dhoti during campaigning, Muhsin is sticking to his jeans and shirts.
“A good politician should prove himself through his thoughts and activities, not through his attire. These are false assumptions,” Muhsin said, while adding that he will not be hesitant to enter the Assembly wearing a pair of jeans and a shirt if he wins.
Hibi Eden, the sitting MLA of Ernakulam, was the first representative to wear jeans inside the Assembly.
Although this is Muhsin’s first election, he does not see himself as a new face for the voters of Pattambi.
“No, I am no stranger to my voters. I was born and brought up here, I was active in the cultural and social layers of this society. I never had to introduce myself to any voters,” he says.
Muhsin says that Kanhaiya has expressed his willingness to come to Pattambi to campaign for him.
“If the political situation allows he will be coming,” he says.
Waste management, which is a big issue in Pattambi, as well as environmental protection, education and public sector development are the major issues on which Muhsin is focusing his campaign.
“People limit the concept of development to just constructing roads and bus bays. But I will be extending the concept to a much larger perspective,” the aspiring MLA says.
He also says that he will focus on the growing number of incidents, around the country, of intolerance, communal fascism and the curtailing of freedom of speech.
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