Eight MLAs may lose out as ageing IUML to press with three-term cap

The Samastha leadership eventually broke their silence on the matters affecting its relationship with IUML. Photo: Manorama Online.

Kasaragod: The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a constituent of the United Democratic Front (UDF), has reiterated its commitment to implement the 'one leader one post' rule in the party, and also cap the number of terms for elected representatives.

The party has also decided to expand the state secretariat -- the highest decision-making body in Kerala -- to 21 members from the 12 members now.

These were the important recommendations of a sub-committee formed to recommend amendments to the constitution of the party in the state, said IUML state general secretary P M A Salam.

These recommendations were accepted during the party's state council meeting in Kozhikode on October 5.

The three-term restriction applies also to state leaders holding general posts in the party, he said. "But the restrictions do not apply to the national leadership because the amendments are for the state constitution," he said.

Salam said the party had incorporated the 'one leader, one post' rule and three-term cap in its constitution in 2011 and started implementing them at all levels of the organisation and electoral politics.

But the party constitution also gives the state president the power to give exemptions to important leaders, he said.

Only two of the 15 Muslim League MLAs hold general posts in the party's state committee, he said.

K K Abid Hussain Thangal and N Shamsudheen are state secretaries of the IUML, and the party president had given them an exemption to contest the Assembly election in 2016, said Salam. K M Shaji, another party secretary, was also given the exemption that year and was elected to the Legislative Assembly, he said.

Shaji lost his seat but the other two MLAs retained theirs in the 2021 Assembly election.

The party state committee -- headed by president Syed Sadiqali Shihab Thangal -- has seven vice-presidents, 11 state secretaries, one general secretary (P M A Salam), and one treasurer (five-time Kasaragod MLA C T Ahammad Ali). "Except for the two MLAs, none of them have two posts," Salam said.

The IUML's state constitution can be amended every four years, and its members must renew their membership every four years. The 2011 amendments were carried forward in 2016.

In 2020, the party could not form the constitution amendment sub-committee and launch its membership drive because of the Covid pandemic. "We are doing it this year," Salam said.

The membership drive will begin from the grama panchayat wards on November 1. The new state committee will be formed before March 10, 2023, which is the party's 75th Foundation Day, said general secretary Salam. The state committee will then elect the new 21-member state secretariat.

Eight MLAs to complete three or more terms in 2026

The median age of the 15 Muslim League members in the present Legislative Assembly is 62 years, with five members above the age of 70 years, six members between 60 and 70 years, and four MLAs under 60 years.

Of the 15 MLAs, eight will complete three or more terms in the Legislative Assembly by 2026.

P K Kunhalikutty (71), the party general secretary, is an eight-time MLA. M K Muneer, though only 60 years old, is a five-time MLA. K P A Majeed (72) is a six-time MLA.

All three leaders are members of the party's eight-member high-power committee, an ad hoc panel headed by president Syed Sadiqali Shihab Thangal, which steers the party.

The party president will be inclined to give exemptions to these leaders to contest again, said two MLAs.

Then, there is Manjalamkuzhi Ali (70), a five-time MLA, twice as an LDF-backed independent and thrice elected on an IUML ticket.

The rest of the four MLAs who would complete their three terms in the Legislative Assembly are N A Nellikkunnu (68) from Kasaragod, N Shamsudheen (53) from Mannarkkad, P K Basheer (63) from Eranad, and P Ubaidulla (62) from Malappuram.

If the party plays by the book, these four MLAs and Manjalamkuzhi Ali would not be in the fray in 2026.

The party has three two-time MLAs in the House: P Abdul Hameed (75) from Vallikkunnu, T V Ibrahim (57) from Kondotty, K K Abid Hussain Thangal (62) from Kottakkal; and four first-time MLAs: U A Latheef (72) from Manjeri, Kurukkoli Moideen (62) from Tirur, Najeeb Kanthapuram (47) from Perinthalmanna and A K M Ashraf (44) from Manjeshwar.

The IUML -- which is fighting for and losing Muslim youths to the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) in several pockets -- is pushing for a three-term cap to bring in young blood into the party.

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