MANJERI

Published on May 03, 2004 05:18 PM IST

If the ruling Congress-led UDF in Kerala has the least worry about the outcome of any seats, then it could well be Manjeri in this Muslim heartland, where UDF's second major ally, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has fielded its nominee.

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HT Image
PTI | ByAG Kannan, Press Trust of India, Malappuram,(kerala

If the ruling Congress-led UDF in Kerala has the least worry about the outcome of any seats, then it could well be Manjeri in this Muslim heartland, where UDF's second major ally, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has fielded its nominee.

Former MLA KPA Majeed represents IUML from Manjeri.

So sterling has been the League's performance in this constituency that even entrenched sceptics could hope re-write the electoral history of this 'green citadel.'

The unenviable task of taking on the league candidate has been entrusted with former minister and CPI-M nominee TK Hamsa in Manjeri.

Manjeri has the unique distinction of sending the league nominees alone since 1952.

IUML's General Secretary E Ahmed, a high profile politician and party spokesman, won Manjeri in 1999 by a margin of over 1.2 lakh votes against IT Najeeb (CPI-M). Ahmed has this time been shifted to Ponnani, replacing IUML's All-India President, GM Bannatwala.

Refusing to be overawed by the track record of the seats the LDF is highlighting a host of issues ranging from the 'plight of the minority families' who had to flee Marad after last year's carnage that claimed nine lives to Chief Minister AK Antony's controversial statement on minorities indulging in collective bargaining.

The BJP has fielded local woman leader, Uma Unni, who is seeking to demonstrate the party's growing clout to cash in on the 'Hindu sentiments'.

A former minister in the Nayanar government, CPI-M's TK Hamsa is also banking on the support of Muslim outfits like PDP and Indian National League in addition to his party's vote bank in the constituency stretching from forest-fringed Nilambur in the east to Beypore coastal belt in Kozhikode district.

Hamsa also promises to initiate steps to introduce an international terminal and night-landing facility in the Karippur (Kozhikode) airport relied by large number of expatriates from the area.

On the other hand, campaign managers of Majeed, who earned the wrath of some party loyals for hobnobbing with the CPI(M) during the last local body polls, say that a high percentage of polling would certainly ensure a handsome win for the party.

Campaigning has gained momentum for the May 10 polls with all frontline parties resorting to woo voters with colourful banners and posters besides day-to-day public meetings.

IUML supremo, Panakkad Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal, whose message always goes well with a majority of the voters in the area, is a major source of strength for the party candidate in Manjeri.

Chief Minister, AK Antony's recent 'Navothana Yatra' has also helped in bringing together faction-ridden of Congress and the league who otherwise differed on a host of local issues.

Known for its sporting spirit and love for music, the campaigning in the area has assumed an artistic touch with parties pressing 'mobile music troupes' to 'entertain and enlighten' the voters with 'political songs' composed in lively beats of 'Mappila songs'.

Unlike most other places in the state, a profusion of colourful flags, banners and buntings greet visitors to the area and children wearing paper caps and T-shirts displaying party symbols add to the festive mood of election season.

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