With the Assembly elections on April 6, the seat-sharing trouble of LDF seems to be on a roll. Earlier today, the announcement of Transport Minister AK Saseendran’s candidature has led to an implosion within the Nationalist Congress Party leadership. Following this, PS Prakashan of the state executive left the NCP and declared that he would join Mani C Kappan at the UDF.
Adding to their troubles, the NCP’s youth wing — Nationalist Youth Congress — has passed a resolution against Saseendran’s candidatures in the presence of the party’s state president TP Peethambaran. They are demanding that the two-tenure rule should also be imposed in NCP. Saseendran is a two-time winner from the Elathur in Kozhikode, and following the left parties’ two-term rule many major leaders have been left behind, including Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, Industries Minister EP Jayarajan, Culture Minister AK Balan, and Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.
Many in Kozhikode are demanding that Saseendran step down and give space to newer faces. Moreover, posters and banners demanding that Saseendran step down, reminding the sexual allegation controversy, and asking to save NCP were popularised in Kozhikode. However, none of this is the extent of the seat-sharing troubles within the LDF.
The CPM is also facing flak for not considering Isaac and G Sudhakaran, especially considering how they are few of the party’s hard hitters. Posters appeared throughout the state demanding candidature for the dropped leaders. In Alappuzha, posters supporting Isaac and criticising the party emerged in the public arena thereby confusing the cadres. Isaac had to intervene in the matter, and he posted on Facebook, “The CPM has an institutional mechanism to fix candidates for the elections and it has been the way for many years. All the members have a responsibility to accept the decisions taken via that mechanism. I have followed the party’s instructions and I will continue to do so.”
On the other hand, posters were also the chosen weapon of dissent for those who didn’t agree with a few of the party’s candidates. The posters say, “If you try to make the constituency into your family property using your party influence, then brave communists will react accordingly” and “The belief that there is no life without authority will end the continuance of governance”. The issue follows reports the AK Balan’s wife PK Jameela will stand for election in Tharoor instead of Balan since he was asked not to by party leadership. There was a wave of common anger amongst party workers in Tharoor against Dr Jameela’s candidature. The posters have appeared in the area, before the district-level party meeting scheduled for today.
There has been a political division within the CPI (M) after the party’s state leadership dropped Assembly Speaker and Ponani MLA P Sreeramakrishnan’s name from the candidature list. The local members of the Ponani division organised a protest march today in support of area committee leader and district member TM Siddique after he was ignored for P Nandakumar to fill the spot at Ponani. Hundreds of people including women participated in the protest chanting slogans against Nandakumar, demanding Siddique’s candidature.
During the early stages of the discussion, the local area members kept recommending Siddique’s name to be added to the fray after Sreeramakrishnan was dropped. This was repeated in the area committee meetings and district meetings. However, the state leadership decided on Nandakumar despite the opposition. While the leadership was aware of the protest from the local leaders, the march has shaken the party to the core. Especially since it happened parallel to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s public programme at Pinarayi.
After Paloli Mohammed Kutty of CPM stepped down, the state leadership had brought Sreeramakrishnan from Perinthalmanna to contest at Ponani. This was despite Siddique’s name being the loudest in the meetings. The local area members are complaining that despite getting another chance after 10 years, the state leadership is dropping a hard-working cadre to field someone who is not from the area.
The Kuttiadi incident
What is happening in Ponani is not a one-off incident as the same is happening in Kuttiadi as well. The state leadership has decided to give Kuttiadi to Jose K Mani and the Kerala Congress (M). The local leaders had organised a protest while discussions were going on at the Vadakara area committee regarding Kuttiadi. Reportedly, local members published posters against the party decision to pass the seat to Jose Mani, and the CPM cadre declared that their support is to KP Kunhammed Kutty.
They added that the “power-hunger” of a few people led to the defeat in Kuttiadi and if they don’t learn from it then the repercussions will be dangerous for the party. In their protest march today, the organisers proclaimed that the state leadership should listen to the decision of the people and the local cadre. While the number is fewer than the Ponani march, there were still almost a hundred cadre members protesting the decision to hand over the seat to Kerala Congress (M).
On the other hand, the arrival of Jose’s Kerala Congress (M) into the LDF has already created a rift within the NCP in the name of Pala constituency, following which Kappan left. What started from a discussion on the Pala seat has now, reportedly, reached, 12. More talks are underway, but at this juncture, Jose’s party is now the third biggest within the Left Democratic Front.