This is now being extended to Perinthalmanna, Kondotty and Wandoor seats in Malappuram district
It is now in the realm of electoral speculation whether a poll strategy that yielded rich dividends for the CPI(M) in Kunnamangalam, Koduvally, Nilambur, Tanur and Thavannur Assembly seats in the Malabar region in the past is guaranteed to succeed elsewhere in the region in the upcoming Assembly elections.
But the party’s game plan of cashing in on the dissidence of its rivals in the United Democratic Front (UDF), especially the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), will be put to test in a few more constituencies in the region.
The CPI(M) has reaped benefits of the dissidence in the UDF to breach what was otherwise strong bastions of the UDF in the region in the past Assembly elections. That strategy is now being extended to Perinthalmanna, Kondotty and Wandoor seats in Malappuram district.
The success model was tested in the past in Thavannur, Tanur and Nilambur in Malappuram and Kunnamangalam and Koduvally in Kozhikode. The CPI(M) managed to make headway in these strongholds of the UDF by fielding dissidents in the UDF, especially the IUML, as Left Democratic Front (LDF)-backed Independent candidates.
The CPI(M) has now fielded K.P. Sulaiman Haji, an expatriate businessman who was the leader of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), an IUML-affiliated organisation of non-resident Indians, in Kondotty, a pocket borough of the IUML.
The Wandoor constituency is also witnessing similar experiment as P. Midhuna, who won in the local body election as IUML candidate in 2015 and became president of the Pallikkal panchayat in Malappuram, is the CPI(M)’s candidate there. In 2016, K.P. Anil Kumar of the Congress retained the seat by defeating the CPI(M) candidate.
What is known in political circles as ‘Koduvally model’ of the CPI(M) is now being replicated in the Perinthalmanna constituency. K.P. Mohammad Musthafa, former leader of the IUML who served as chairman of the Malappuram municipality, has been nominated by the CPI(M) as an Independent in the constituency which elected IUML’s Manjalamkuzhi Ali in 2011 and 2016 elections. The tactical move, if works, will help the CPI(M) win the seat which it lost in 2016 by a thin margin of 500-odd votes.
The CPI(M)’s first successful experiment with disgruntled or expelled leaders of the IUML was in 2006 when it fielded former Muslim Youth League leader K.T. Jaleel and former IUML leader P.T.A. Rahim in the erstwhile Kuttippuram and Koduvally constituencies respectively.
Later, Mr. Rahim was shifted to neighbouring Kunnamangalam constituency when it became unreserved segment. Mr. Jaleel, now Minister in the LDF Cabinet, continued his winning streak from Thavannur after Kutttipuram ceased to exist as Assembly segment. The experiment was repeated in Koduvally by fielding Karat Razak, another disgruntled IUML leader in 2016.
Mr. Jaleel, Mr. Abdurahiman, and Mr. Rahim have been again offered Thavannur, Tanur, and Kunnamangalam constituencies respectively by the CPI(M) to contest again as LDF-backed Independents. P.V. Anwar, who came from a family of Congress followers, has also been offered the Nilambur seat where he won the 2016 election as LDF Independent.
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