Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CPI grumbles, but CPM has its way in Kerala

10 Mar 2009, ET Bureau

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Aiming to retain 18 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala it won in 2004 is a challenge in itself for Kerala’s Left Democratic Front. That challenge has been made more onerous, thanks to the discord among the LDF coalition members over seat allocation.

The dispute between the two leading parties in the LDF coalition, CPM and CPI, is out in the open, with the central leaderships of the two parties also having to help find an amicable solution out of the crisis.

The CPI is upset over the CPM move to have a Left-backed independent contest from the Ponnani seat. CPI general secretary A B Bardhan and the local leadership in Kerala have been insisting that it would be CPI which will decide on the candidate in Ponnani, but the CPM seems to be in no mood to relent.

Instead, Hussein Randathani, a candidate who apparently has the blessings of the People’s Democratic Party and the CPM has announced himself as the Left candidate in Ponnani.

To the CPI’s consternation, Randathani has already begun campaign work and his supporters have begun spreading the word about their candidate.

A final decision on the candidate in Ponnani is scheduled only on March 12, but given the ground realities, few doubt that it would be anyone other than Randathani.

Ponnani has been an Indian Union Muslim League stronghold, and it may hardly matter whether the CPI or the CPM candidate contests from there. But political observers here say that if the seat is denied to CPI, the repercussions may well be felt in other constituencies.

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