Malappuram: With the loss of sitting seats and the drop in the victory margin in its stronghold constituencies, criticisms are being raised within the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) that the electoral strategies were flawed.
The League did not suffer much of a setback compared to the other allies of the United Democratic Front (UDF) as the Left Democratic Front (LDF) swept the Kerala Assembly polls. The party, which contested in 27 seats, won 15. Compared to 2016, there is a drop of just three seats. But critical voices have been raised over the loss of sitting seats Azhikode, Kuttiyadi, Kozhikode South and Kalamassery, along with the drop in the victory margin in the seats in the Malappuram district.
The party suffered a bigger setback in constituencies where protests were triggered over League candidate selection and faced rebel trouble. This protest over candidate selection is suspected to have influenced the neutral votes in other constituencies as well.
IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty had returned to the state politics after resigning from the Lok Sabha. The Left succeeded in making this a talking point among neutral voters. Despite the CPM fielding a relatively weak candidate, the UDF vote share dropped by 7 per cent in Vengara, compared to 2016.
The party did retain 11 sitting seats in the Malappuram district. However, the LDF increased its vote share in the district, except in the Perithalmanna and Ernad constituencies. And the party workers have pointed out that this was a sign of warning for the League.
The mandalam committee had protested over declaring V K Ebrahim Kunju's son as the candidate in Kalamassery. The district office-bearers had even gone to Panakkad and voiced their dissatisfaction. But the leadership stance was that once declared, the candidate cannot be changed. Nor did the party heed the warning of the mandalam committee that it would lose out on Kozhikode South if M K Muneer was shifted to Koduvally.
Though K M Shaji had expressed his willingness to shift to a more safe constituency in Malappuram, the party decision was that he should contest from Azhikode itself.
The local leadership had expressed contrarian views over the candidate selection in Thiruvambady, Kuthuparamba and Perambra seats. Discussions were also held in the UDF over the League giving Thiruvambady constituency to Congress and instead taking up Pattambi. But the League stood firm on its claim for Thiruvambady.
However, the League lost Thiruvambady, and Congress was defeated in Pattambi.
The League had fielded a strong candidate, P K Firos, in Tanur but was defeated due to the undercurrents within the UDF. The erosion of votes from areas, including Ponmundam panchayat where there are problems between the Congress and the League, led to the defeat in Tanur by 985 votes.
Though the League won applause for fielding a woman candidate after 25 years, criticisms are being raised that certain prominent leaders were not present for the campaign events of Noorbina Rasheed in Kozhikode South. The non-cooperation of the mandalam committee during the campaigning was also evident. To find a solution for this, the League leadership had called for a meet at Panakkad. But the poll results point that even this did not help. The constituency from where M K Muneer had won by 6,327 votes, this time Noorbina Rasheed lost by 12,459 votes.