On a day when CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat attended a rally in Karanataka to launch the Third Front, there was rebellion brewing in the Left’s ranks in Ponnani, a little-known constituency in Muslim-dominated north Kerala.
A tussle has been on between the two parties on who should be fielded from here. The CPI(M) has announced its own candidate from the seat — it has pledged support to Independent leader Hussain Randathany — while the CPI’s has given the Ponnani ticket to A.P. Kunhamu, also an Independent.
An angry CPI has also threatened to field its party members in all the 20 Kerala Lok Sabha constituencies. This, in turn, has upset CPI(M) leaders who shot back a warning that all three CPI candidates would suffer if the party is adamant over Ponnani.
Ponnani is part of the CPI’s kitty of three seats. Though the party has lost from here in the past six elections, when it comes to the total percentage of votes required to retain the ‘national party’ tag, Ponnani plays a crucial role.
So, keeping in mind the poor show here, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) had decided to back an Independent. The CPI had agreed on the condition that it gets to name the candidate. But the LDF, in an attempt to please influential cleric Abdul Nasser Madani, acquitted in the Coimbatore blasts case, announced its support for a candidate chosen by him.
Rubbed the wrong way, the CPI announced Kunhamu’s name.
Allegations are flying thick and fast and the two parties are questioning the credentials of each other’s candidates. CPI leaders dub Randathany an outright fundamentalist whereas CPM leaders say Kunhamu is an activist of the National Development Front (a fundamentalist group).
Interestingly, central leaders of both parties have justified their state units’ stance and advised them to stand by their respective positions.
“No doubt our candidate will contest there. We don’t mind going all alone if things continue like this. The party executive will take a final decision on March 16,” CPI state secretary Veliyam Bhargavan said after storming out of the LDF co-ordination meeting.
Another aggrieved party, the JD(S), denied its sitting seat Kozhikode and asked to move to neighboring Wayanad, is planning to join the CPI.