Kannur: It is said that no one can even dare to raise one's voice against CPM in Anthoor Municipal limits, a party bastion in Kannur district.
The party's sway was such that it secured 14 seats unopposed in the last election to the civic body five years ago, but after an unsavoury incident leading to the suicide of an entrepreneur last year and a Congress fight back, that figure has gone down to just six as revealed at the end of filing of nominations for the latest poll to the same body.
A year ago district Congress president Satheeshan Pacheni conducted a march (padayatra) in all wards promising that he will infuse a breath of fresh democratic air. The effort has likely paid off and CPM is likely facing a reversal of fortune.
Local Congress leaders claim that only 6 CPM candidates got a walkover this time due to their party’s continuous efforts to strengthen democracy.
The CPM, however, says that people of these six municipal wards had complete faith only in their party and that is why their party candidates were elected unopposed.
The erstwhile Anthoor Panchayat was upgraded to Municipality level in the last elections. CPM with 27 councillors ruled the municipality until the five-year term expired recently as had happened with over 1,000 local bodies in the state.
CPM's ally CPI had another councillor and there was no opposition worth the name in the municipality.
Fear still stalks
It was in 1995 that the Congress-led UDF fielded candidates in all wards of Anthoor. There were close electoral contests in three wards. There was also an instance in which a surveillance camera installed in a booth was removed. Congress block president V Dasan who was in the forefront marshalling candidates for all wards was murdered in a few months!
Though three persons who were arrested in connection with the murder belonged to the CPM, the party maintained that it had no role in the crime.
With no witnesses coming forward to give a statement, the case investigation reached a dead end. After that incident Congress found it difficult to get candidates for many wards.
"The terror caused by Dasan's murder still exists in Anthoor. Congress families are not ready to express support to the party publicly out of fear," says DCC president Satheeshan Pacheni.
After Dasan's murder it was only last year that the Congress could muster the courage to hold a march across the length and breadth of Anthoor. The padayathra was held in the wake of allegations against Anthoor Municipality in connection with the suicide of Sajan, the builder-owner of Partha Convention Centre owner.
The opposition alleged that the high-handedness of municipal chairperson P K Shyamala and other officials had forced Sajan to take the extreme step. (Shyamala is the wife of CPM central committee member M V Govindan.)
The police report on Sajan's suicide by death came in favour of the municipality bringing much relief to the CPM.
However, the UDF alleged cover-up and decided to raise the issue of Sajan's death in the coming elections. The UDF has decided to field candidates in 19 wards and the BJP in 13 wards in the civic polls due next month.
"CPM is threatening candidates and their proposers. CPM is yet to renounce violence especially in its strongholds," alleged BJP district president N Haridas.
CPM district secretary M V Jayarajan hit back, particularly targeting the Congress. "There is no point blaming us for lack of people's support. Will it not be a shame if CPM were to provide candidates to Congress for contesting the polls?"