Congress rejects SDPI's support for UDF in Lok Sabha polls

VD Satheesan. File Photo: PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: In a crucial political development, the Congress in Kerala on Thursday rejected the support offered by the Social Democratic Party of India – the political arm of the banned Popular Front of India – to the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the April 26 Lok Sabha polls. 

The Congress made it stand clear four days after the SDPI declared its support to the opposition front. The opposition party became forced to say no to SDPI support openly after the BJP started to make it a campaign issue at the national level. 

Accusing the Congress of contesting elections with the support of terrorists, the BJP national spokesperson Prem Shukla had asked why the main opposition party needed to take the support of an organisation like SDPI which supports terrorists.

"The Congress and the UDF oppose communalism, be it by the majority or minority communities, alike. We will not accept the support of such organisations. This is our view about the support extended by SDPI to UDF also," Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan said here on Thursday. 

Senior Congress leaders M M Hassan and Ramesh Chennithala had evaded questions on SDPI’s communal colour while reacting to its decision to support their party and its alliance partners.

Congress leaders’ stance was that they would not say no to anyone offering votes as it is one’s individual choice. 

The ruling CPM-led Left front had also sought to put the Congress on the defensive, alleging that SDPI’s decision was part of an unholy nexus between the two parties. 

"One can only infer that there was a clear deal behind it. Though it has raised several kinds of doubts within the Congress, the acting president (M M Hassan), has fully endorsed the support," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday in Kochi. Soon after SDPI announced its decision, Hassan had said that Congress leaders would take a stand on it only after holding discussions within the party.

Hours before Satheesan addressed the media, CPM state secretary M V Govindan said with the support of SDPI, the upcoming election will see the new version of the infamous Co-Le-B (short for Congress-League-BJP) alliance. "We will see Co-Le-B plus SDPI this time," he said at the 'Meet the Leader' programme held at the Malappuram Press Club on Thursday.

SDPI Kerala president Muvattupuzha Ashraf Moulavi had said his party decided to back the Congress in the elections in Kerala as they are leading the anti-BJP INDIA bloc at the national level. SDPI had contested from nine seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Kerala. the party is contesting from 18 seats in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. In other states, it will offer support to anti-BJP candidates, the party leadership said.

Vijayan had also slammed the Congress over reports that the Congress and its allies did not use their party flags during an election rally led by Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad. It is alleged that the decision was taken to avoid the controversy played out during the 2019 march over the Indian Union Muslim League’s green flags used at Rahul Gandhi's election procession. Then the BJP had made it a campaign that Rahul was getting Pakistan’s support. 

Pinarayi said the Congress’ stance was that it needed the Muslim League’s votes, but not their flag. Responding to the CM’s criticism, Satheesan said the Congress does not need lessons on how to campaign from AKG Centre, the CPM’s state headquarters. “Last time, it was the BJP which raised the flag issue. This time Pinarayi is doing it,” Satheesan hit back.

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