VP Sanu is an active young face of the CPI(M). The National President of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI(M), Sanu is contesting the Lok Sabha bye-poll from the Malappuram constituency.
In an interview with TNM, Sanu said that people won't tolerate betrayal, referring to PK Kunhalikutty quitting as a Member of Parliament (MP) to contest in the Kerala Assembly election.
The 32-year-old had taken on Indian Union Muslim League's (IUML) leader PK Kunhalikutty in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Sanu had lost by a margin of 2,60,153 votes. And now Kunhalikutty has quit as MP to contest the Kerala Assembly election, in a bid to return back to state politics. Kerala will go to the polls on April 6 and the Lok Sabha bye-poll is being held along with that.
This time around, Sanu will face off with Abdussamad Samadani of the IUML.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Sanu was confident that he would surpass the popularity of PK Kunhalikutty even though Malappuram is the stronghold of the IUML. But his confidence didn't reflect in the results. Sanu, however, feels that the political environment has changed drastically since 2019.
Sanu said, "In the 2019 elections, there was expectation across Kerala that Rahul Gandhi would become the Prime Minister. People voted to keep Narendra Modi away from power and the most important campaign point was the fight against fascism. Now he (Kunhalikutty) is coming back and forcing bye-polls. People have realised this, that the fight against fascism has stopped. He quit as MP at a time when citizenship in the country is decided on the basis of religion. He left as MP when the Union Budget was passed without any people-friendly measures in it.” Sanu further added, “People elect a politician either to the Parliament or to an Assembly with the faith that they will be there for five years. It's that faith that has been betrayed, and people won’t tolerate such a betrayal. Therefore, there is a big change in the political environment which can bring change in Malappuram this time.”
Watch: TNM's interview with VP Sanu
Talking of Kunhalikutty’s performance as an MP, Sanu said that his performance was even worse this term. Kunhalikutty won from the Malappuram constituency in the 2017 bye-polls and in the 2019 general elections. The bye-poll in 2017 was necessitated by the death of IUML leader E Ahamed. "When he was elected first, there were accusations that he was the worst MP from Kerala with regard to participation in debates, attendance in the house, and spending of MP funds,” said Sanu. “At the time he said that he would correct it, but he was even worse in the second term and left his post mid-way.”
However, Kunhalikutty’s total votes and vote share had increased from 2017 to 2019. "There is no point in considering the 2019 vote share, as people voted to elect Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister. The majority of the UDF reduced from 2014 polls to 2017 bye-polls. Also in the bye-poll for the Vengara constituency in 2017 and the local body polls in 2020, the Left Front strengthened its position,” said Sanu. “The development and welfare work done by the Left government is important. The BJP and the Congress and the Muslim League attack the Left with the same voice, which the people rejected in the local body polls.”
Sanu also criticised Kunhalikutty's absence during the Triple Talaq bill voting and also in the Vice President election. “There were protests against the farm bills that were passed without discussions in the house. None of the Congress and the Muslim League MPs were there in the protests both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, while CPI(M)'s KK Ragesh had been with the farmers throughout the protest. What more, there was no visible intervention by the UDF MPs during the time of the Delhi riots too," he said.
But the Left, which is believed to be progressive has fielded only 12 women candidates. “That should be viewed critically, there is no doubt about it. There is no justification for the Left fielding fewer women candidates if the other two parties fielded fewer women,” said Sanu. “More positive discussions need to be held in that direction.”
During the campaign, he again highlighted Kunhalikutty leaving mid-way as MP as having affected the development of Malappuram. Sanu said, "Malappuram is less developed compared to the other districts. People's lives and development will improve only if there is a political change in the constituency.”