Samastha's pro-CPM, pro-IUML factions bombard Ponnani voters with slandering quizzes

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IUML's M P Abdussamad Samadani (left) and CPM candidate K S Hamza have found the support of two warring factions of the Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama. Graphic: Created using canva

Kozhikode: The rift in the Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama (EK faction) -- the influential Islamic scholars' body traditionally aligned with IUML -- played out in full force in Ponnani Lok Sabha constituency during the campaigning.

Though the EK faction of Samastha and IUML are wedded to each other -- sharing their workers and leaders -- Samastha's president Sayyid Muhammed Jifri Muthu Koya Thangal does not enjoy the best of relation with IUML state president Panakkad Sayyid Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal. The differences have emboldened the anti-IUML ginger group in Samastha to nudge the organisation towards the left. During the Lok Sabha election campaign it went public -- and also hit below the belt -- to seek votes for CPM candidate K S Hamza (57), a former IUML leader who was ousted from the party last year. Hamza is taking on IUML's polyglot orator M P Abdussamad Samadani (65) in Ponnani.

To be sure, CPM already has the declared support of the AP faction of Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama, headed by Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliyar. The party is now trying to drive the wedge in the EK faction deeper to crack the Ponnani test.

What has baffled the voters of Ponnani is the barrage of slandering and hilarious questions pushed to their WhatsApp, first by the pro-CPM Samastha trying to expose IUML, and then by the official Samastha, trying to expose the alleged double standards of CPM. The repercussions of the quizzes will be seen in Samastha after the election, said political observers.

The two factions ran the quiz competitions under the name Ponnani Team Samastha's Intifada (uprising).

The pro-CPM faction's quiz was for women and offered a gold coin as the first prize, a fan as the second prize and a cooker as the third prize.

The pro-IUML faction or the official Samastha offered a refrigerator, a washing machine and a gas stove as the first three prizes, and the competition was open to all above 18 years.

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The posters of the quiz competitions circulated in WhatsApp groups in the Ponnani constituency.

Here are a few multiple-choice questions (MCQs) posed by the pro-CPM faction:

Q. The Mecca of Malabar?
Options: 1. Ponnani 2. Tirur 3. Tanur 4. Tirurangadi

Q. Which political party created an opportunity for those opposing Samastha to take control of Samastha's institutions?
Options: 1. Trinamool Congress 2. Muslim League 3. Aam Aadmi Party 3. BSP

Q. Name the leader who was ousted from IUML for questioning the betrayal that led to ED questioning the late Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal.
Options: 1. Sabah Vengara 2. K S Hamza 3. Latheef Thurayur
(After ED summoned the then IUML state president Hyderali Thangal in 2021, his son Moyeen Ali Shihab Thangal lashed out at Kunhalikutty. Hamza, IUML's secretary in charge of the organisation, sided with Moyeen and that allegedly led to his ouster in 2022.)

Q. Name the leader, who along with P K Kunhalikutty and Abid Hussain Thangal, betrayed Samastha under the guise of finding a solution to the Samastha-CIC impasse.
Options: Sadik Ali Thangal, P S H Thangal, K P S K Thangal
(There was a bitter battle between IUML and Samastha for the control of the Coordination of Islamic Colleges (CIC), a university-like body with 96 residential colleges offering secular and religious courses. IUML had its way.)

Q. Which foundation was recently formed as an alternative to Samastha?
Options: 1. Khazi Foundation 2. Forward Foundation 3. Prayan Foundation.
(In February, IUML state president Sadikali Thangal formed the Panakkad Khazi Foundation bringing together around 1,600 mosque committees under his Ghaziship to weaken the divergent voices in Samastha.)

Q. Name the party, which fearing defeat, burned Suprabhaatham newspaper over an ad.
Options: 1. AAP 2. BSP 3. Muslim League
(Suprabhaatham, the mouthpiece of Samastha carried an LDF ad. It was burned by a Samastha supporter and the video went viral. Samastha supporters are traditionally IUML supporters, too.)

Q. What will you do to help win K S Hamza, who stood with Sunath Jamaath during a crisis?
Options: 1. I will vote for him 2. My family and I will vote for him 3. My family, friends and I will vote for him.

Samastha has not officially distanced itself from the quiz or condemned the competition that ended on Thursday, April 25, a day before voting. But on April 23, Samastha president Jifri Muthu Koya Thangal released a statement asking its leaders to refrain from election campaigning.

In the statement, Samastha also asked its members to avoid unwanted campaigns that can damage the special relationship between Samastha Kerala and the Muslim League. Samastha has not entrusted anyone to campaign in the election, it said.

The statement was issued to counter its joint secretary K Ummer Faizy from Mukkam who told the media that there was no need to suspect the anti-fascist stance of the CPM. "In INDIA bloc, Left and the CPM take the strongest stance against fascist forces. That's my unbiased view," he said. Samastha observers often refer to him as 'comrade' Ummer Faizy for his pro-left position. Recently he told the media that "people who tell the truth are branded as comrades". He is a member of Samastha's Mushawara, the highest decision-making body of the Islamic scholars' organisation.

Pro-IUML faction strikes back
When the CPM handles started dumping the Google Doc link of the quiz in WhatsApp groups in Ponnani, the pro-IUML faction of Samastha released another quiz. This one took the CPM by its horns.

The quiz titled Intifada - 2 (1 was taken by the pro-Left faction) had 25 questions. Here are a few:

Q. Which party was ruling West Bengal when Bangladesh author Taslima Nasrin, who wrote 'Lajja', was given refuge in the state?
Options: 1. CPI 2. BJP 3. CPM

Q. Which leader said the main achievement of CPM was removing the hijab?
Options: 1. Comrade P Thilothaman 2. Comrade Chitharanjan 3. Comrade Anil Kumar

Q. The student organisation that propagates atheist-liberal ideas under the guise of progressive ideas on campuses?
Options: 1. SFI 2. DYFI 3. ABVP

Q. Who made the communal statement that Kerala will be controlled by Amir-Hassan-Kunhalikutty (Congress's M M Hassan, IUML's P K Kunhalikutty and Jamaat-e-Islami Amir (chief) M I Abdul Aziz.)
Options: 1. V S Achuthanandan 2. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan 3. EMS

Q. Which chief minister coined the term love jihad, now used by Sangh Parivar to spread hate against Muslims?
Options: 1. E K Nayanar 2. V S Achuthanandan 3. Pinarayi Vijayan

Q. In which cases was Sangh Parivar accused and acquitted during Pinarayi's rule?
Options: 1. Riyas Moulavi murder, 2. Sexual assault of an orphan at Palathayi 3. K Surendran's black money case 4. All of the above

Q. What will you do to ensure the victory of Samadani who stood by Samastha during its crisis?
Options: 1. I will vote for him 2. My family and I will vote for him 3. My family, friends and I will vote for him.

(with inputs from Santhosh Christy)

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