CPM woos Madani for Muslim votes

via Pioneer News Service/ Kochi published on March 30, 2006

Desperate to make inroads into the Muslim vote-bank, the CPI(M) in Kerala is trying to secure the support of the People’s Democratic Party led by Abdul Nasser Madani, a prime accused in the February 14, 1998 Coimbatore bombings that killed 50 people and injured more than 150 others minutes before BJP leader LK Advani was to address a rally.

Madani, known to promote extremist views and a communal agenda, is at present in Coimbatore Central Jail and has been denied bail, including by the Supreme Court

Senior CPI(M) leader and Member of Parliament TK Hamza reportedly visited Madani in Coimbatore Central Jail recently, days after the Kerala Assembly, with the Left Democratic Front’s support, adopted a first-of-its-kind resolution seeking parole for the terror accused.

The resolution, moved by the Congress-led UDF, originally sought medical treatment for Madani. The CPI(M)-led LDF moved an amendment seeking Madani’s release and it was adopted on March 14.

Close on the heels of Mr Hamza’s visit to Coimbatore Jail where he met Madani, the PDP has indicated that it may take an anti-UDF stand in the Assembly election. Providing clear hints about its election strategy, the party’s acting chairman Poonthura Siraj said here that the UDF Government had failed to take effective steps for the release of Madani. This statement is being seen as indicative of the PDP and the LDF entering into an election understanding.

Mr Siraj said CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had sought a consensus on the Madani issue during his Kasargode to Thiruvanantha-puram march. He said during the 2001 Assembly election, the UDF had promised to help secure the release of Mr Madani and the PDP had then worked for the UDF. But the UDF did not take any effective steps to keep its promise, he alleged.

“We had a crucial role in the making of the UDF Government. Naturally, it was the responsibility of the UDF to intervene in the issue of Madani’s release during its reign. Instead, it passed a resolution in the Assembly at a special session convened to discuss the Mullapperiyar dam issue, demanding the intervention of the Union Government. The PDP had requested the Kerala Government to hold talks with the Tamil Nadu Government to grant conditional bail to Madani,” Mr Siraj said.

When asked about Mr Hamza’s visit to Coimbatore Central Jail, Mr Siraj said, “Madani has a personal relationship with the MP”.

Confronted by the charge of seeking Muslim votes during the coming Assembly election by pandering to Madani, a CPI(M) leader said, “It is not that we are seeking his support… We see it as a humanitarian problem.”

At the same time, he said there “is nothing wrong if the PDP supports the LDF” in the Assembly election, arguing that the UDF Government has failed to secure parole for Madani.

The CPI(M)’s desperation stems from the early consolidation of Muslim votes made by the Muslim League and the UDF after Mr Oommen Chandy’s Government decided to implement in part the recommendations of the Justice Narendran Commission report on quota for backward communities in Government jobs. Ever since the CPI(M)-led LDF forced the Government to include an amendment to the resolution on Madani seeking his release, the Left is being seen as exerting to secure the PDP’s support to neutralise the UDF’s gains on account of implementing the Narendran Commission’s recommendations that will benefit Muslims

The amendment seeking Madani’s release was clearly a strategy to make inroads into the Muslim vote-bank The CPI(M) appears to be rattled by Muslim voters consolidating behind the UDF after Muslim League leader PK Kunahalikkutty’s efforts to get the Government to implement the Narendran Commission’s recommendations,” said a party insider.

The Muslim League had suffered badly during the 2004 general election during which the non-implementation of the Narendran Commission report and Madani’s incarceration had contributed to its debacle. In an upset defeat, the Muslim League lost the Manjeri seat to the CPI(M)).

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