Congress ‘helpless’ as League continues arm twisting tactics

published on July 2, 2013

Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest partner in the ruling United democratic Front in Kerala is seething with rage over a statement by Congress state president Ramesh Chennithala, in which Ramesh cautioned about the “lakshman rekha” his party has to draw while continuing alliance with a party with a communal tag.

It is no secret that Chennithala’s controversial statement, the instant support it received from senior leaders like Aryadan Mohammed and K Muralidharan, Chennithala’s climbdown and clarification later, were all part of a well orchestrated plan.

Congress leaders privately admit that the League is virtually running an independent administration in the state with key portfolios in its kitty and bringing a bad name for the UDF government and tarnishing ‘secular’ Congress in the process.

Many “I “ group leaders have accused Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for giving a free hand to the League in order to save his chair. Congress is now being seen as the ‘dumb’ partner in the alliance.

And since the Chief Minister also has a ‘minority tag’, time had come for Chennithalas to lend a ear to the growing uneasiness among the majority community of the state.

However, observers also feel that Chennithala’s timing of outburst had more to do with inner politics of Congress and was aimed at adding to the woes of the Chief Minister, at a time when he is drawing flak from all quarters over a series of allegations, involving his personal staff.

“This was anyway expected after Oommen Chandy sternly opposed all efforts by Chennithala to get into the ministry as number two with Home portfolio. Chennithala seems to have now got even with Chandy,” said a Congress state functionary.

League strategy

On the other hand, reports also indicate that the Indian Union Muslim League, which knows its alliance partner only too well, is poised to utilize this opportunity to reinforce its hold over the alliance as well as the government.

IUML leadership feels that since its options are limited outside the UDF, it will be better to agree to an amicable solution at a later stage, but not before claiming its own pound of flesh (read demands.)

While IUML may publicly accept an open clarification mounting to an apology from Chennithala, behind the curtain, the party could set a few other pre-conditions for a ceasefire. Observers feel that the bifurcation of Muslim dominated Malappuram district, an additional Lok Sabha seat in 2014 general elections, reorganization and more representation in Boards and Corporations in public sectors could be part of the demands.

League might also ask for key portfolios for Manjalamkuzhi Ali, who was inducted into the state cabinet as the fifith minister, after a controversy.

Meanwhile, according to insiders, many Congress leaders including Aryadan Muhammed and K Muralidharan have warned their party’s central leadership against the move to carve out a new district in Malabar region.

“It will be political suicide for Congress,” warned a leader.

K Muralidharan who is in New Delhi at present is expected to brief party high command on these issues. However political pundits who have observed UDF politics for decades, feel that the League is poised to have the last laugh.

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