14 Mar 2009 , ET Bureau
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The crisis in Kerala’s Left Democratic Front over the Ponnani seat blew over on Friday night, following the intervention of the CPM central leadership. After a day of high drama, the candidates suggested by CPI and CPM were out of the frame and the meeting of LDF co-ordination panel will select a new Left nominee.
CPI, which went off the collective rocker on Friday morning, threatened to field candidates in seats being contested by CPM. Alleging attempts to snatch its seat, CPI charged CPM with flouting coalition norms. “Without our support, CPM cannot win a single seat in Kerala,” CPI state secretary Veliyam Bharghavan claimed at a press conference in
CPM state unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who spoke to reporters later in the day, sent out a ‘get real’ message to CPI. Recalling CPI’s performance track record since the 1965 election, Mr Vijayan said CPI could not achieve much when it fought alone. “In 1965, CPI candidates lost its deposit in 54 constituencies. Even V R Krishna Iyer had to face the humiliation of losing deposit in the Thalassery seat, as he contested as a CPI candidate.
It could manage three seats in the assembly because of our support. CPM was the biggest party in the then assembly,” Mr Vijayan said. The CPM leader also asked CPI not to be ‘too sanctimonious’. He said the Kerala electorate was familiar with CPI’s role during the Emergency.
The CPM leader then went on to rubbish the claim that his party was snatching the Ponnani seat from CPI and said Hussain Randathani was picked up by CPI. “I have never seen or heard about Randathani. His candidature was suggested by CPI’s K E Ismail. I have come to know from newspapers that they have changed their opinion on Randathani after he refused to be part of CPI parliamentary party in the event of a victory,” Mr Vijayan said.
Mr Vijayan also sought to puncture CPI’s campaign that CPM was feuding with allies on behalf of PDP and Abdul Nasser Madani. “The candidature of Randathani has nothing to do with PDP,” he said. The CPM leader said LDF had been losing Ponnani and efforts were being made by the party to put up a candidate who had chances of winning the seat by defeating UDF.
CPI has been pitching for A P Kunhamu’s candidature from Ponnani with an eye to befriend hard-line Islamic voters. Mr Kunhamu, a fellow traveller of the Muslim outfit NDF, has been writing articles in Jamait-e-Islami controlled newspaper Tejass, defending Muslim terror groups in various parts of the world.
The compromise worked out by the central leadership is only small consolation for CPI. The March 16 meeting is certain to pick up a neutral candidate. CPI’s chief concern was about the candidate becoming part of its parliamentary group after the polls. CPM is yet to complete negotiations with JD(S) for the Kozhikode seat. Mr M P Veerendra Kumar is insisting on contesting this seat. But this is unacceptable to CPM.
Meanwhile, CPM named 13 of its candidates on Friday. Its list includes six MPs—party’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha P Karunakaran, P Sathi Devi (Vadakara), T K Hamza (Malappuram), K Suresh Kurup (Kottayam), K S Manoj (Alappuzha) and P Rajendran (Kollam). In selecting new faces, the party has relied on its youth wing.