CPM revives the spectre of Muslim takeover of the UDF

CPM revives the spectre of Muslim takeover of the UDF
LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan

After a brief silence, the CPM has once again expressed its 'concern' about the increasing dominance of the Muslim League in the Congress and UDF affairs.

"It is becoming increasingly clear with every passing day that it is the League that is controlling the UDF," the LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan told reporters on Wednesday. "Even today morning, Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala had gone to Panakkad," he said.

Congress leaders visiting Panakkad Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal at what is widely considered the spiritual abode of the Muslim League, Kodappanakal House, cannot be seen as anything other than routine. The Assembly elections are around the corner and the League has been a traditional Congress's ally.

No one, not even the CPM, considers the League to hold extreme communal views. Yet, on the day of the visit of the Congress leaders to Panakkad, Vijayaraghavan said that the Congress leaders were busy striking a deal with Muslim religious fundamentalists.

It was the Welfare Party of India link that originally allowed the LDF to accuse the League and by extension the Congress, of hobnobbing with extremist elements. It was also a fact that certain Congress leaders found political merit in the arrangement with the Welfare Party of India (WPI), a party backed by the deeply religious Jamaat-e-Islami.

But there were leaders like KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran who were enraged that such an arrangement was spoken about by Congress leaders in the open. This ideological chaos showed the Congress in poor light and deprived it of some traditional votes.

Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan

The LDF, on the other hand, used the UDF- WPI alliance to position itself as the only secular front on offer. It did pay the LDF rich political dividends.

Eventually, stung by the local body results, Indian National Congress officially distanced itself from the WPI. It was like the CPM shrewdly pulling out Kodiyeri Balakrishnan from the scene after his son Bineesh Kodiyeri was caught in a dope scam, effectively shutting up any more damning questions on the entitled lives led by the families of top CPM leaders.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

By dumping the WPI, it was felt the Congress too would earn such a reprieve. It worked, almost. Two weeks after the election results, it looked as if the CPM had taken off the 'growing clout of the League in the UDF' political line from its strategy paper.

The UDF had also responded as a cohesive unit. Its leaders asked what was wrong if the Muslim League was given its say.

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Political observers, too, saw in the LDF strategy a cunning attempt to woo not just Hindu voters but Christians, too, by projecting the UDF as a desperate formation that has sold its soul to the Muslim.

The CPM, it was felt, was slyly trying to encash the growing Christian suspicions about the Muslim community. The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council had raged at 'love jihad' and the Church was also angered by the Muslim community's objection to the 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among forward castes.

Before the CPM could be perceived as anti-Muslim, a rethink was forced from within, too. Many in the CPM felt the strategy could boomerang and were also uncomfortable with a political line that progressively looked like an attempt to marginalise the Muslim community.

Now that the WPI deal was off, it was also felt that the argument had lost steam.

Therefore, it was not a surprise that not a single LDF MLA had taken such a political stance during the just concluded Kerala Budget session.

And now, just when it was thought the strategy was as good as buried, Vijayaraghavan has sprung a surprise. He has once again whipped up fears of the Muslim takeover of the UDF.

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