Madani arrest: Parties begin damage-control efforts

via VR Jayaraj | Kollam published on August 17, 2010

Major political parties in Kerala began their efforts to control the
damages the arrest of Abdul Nasser Madani, key accused in the Bangalore
bombings case, on Tuesday could cause to their electoral ambitions even
before he was flown out to Bangalore by the Karnataka Police in the
evening. The two main political fronts in the State are worried that
the arrest could cause serious dents in their votebanks among Muslims
just when two major elections are to take place.

While the CPI(M), leader of the ruling LDF, has been trying so far to
avoid or at least delay the arrest of Madani through alleged misuse of
official machinery, the Congress, heading the Opposition UDF, has
already sought to distance itself from the entire Madani arrest issue,
convinced that any position it takes could have a negative impact.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a CPI(M) Politbureau member, tried
hard to convince the Muslims, especially the supporters of Madani, that
neither he nor the LDF Government could avoid the arrest as this was
done on the basis of a warrant issued by a court outside Kerala on the
charge of terror activity.

He said on Tuesday that the “warrant on Madani was not executed by the
Kerala Police” which he controlled but this was done by the Karnataka
Police, implying obviously that such an incident would not have taken
place if it was a Kerala-specific affair. Several parties like the BJP
have already accused Kodiyeri and the CPI(M) of striking a secret deal
with Madani to avoid or delay the arrest.

Even before the arrest, Kodiyeri openly tried to play the card of
BJP-bashing by saying that the Kerala Government could not act like the
party in power in Karnataka and Gujarat. He said the party ruling these
states could have its agendas but the Kerala Government was not
duty-bound to obey orders issued by other states.

CPI(M)’s State committee member MV Jayarajan said the Karnataka
Government had been trying to follow the model of the Gujarat
Government with obvious reference to the BJP’s alleged agenda.

The CPI(M) had forged an open association with Madani’s party, the PDP,
in the last Lok Sabha election and had fielded a candidate of the
Islamist leader’s choice in the Ponnani constituency, risking even the
warm relationships with the other constituents of the LDF, especially
the CPI and RSP. Till date, the CPI(M) has not formally admitted that
this association was a mistake despite all the charges against Madani.

Observers expected the pro-Muslim campaign of the CPI(M) with respect
to Madani to escalate in the coming days as it could not afford to lose
the support of the PDP. “The only section among the Muslims that still
supports the Marxists is the Sunni sect of Kanthapuram (AP Aboobacker
Musliar). The Marxists have to do everything they can to keep the PDP
with them as the panchayath elections are to take place in two months,”
said a senior editor of a leading Malayalam daily.

While the Congress is trying to generate a feeling that it does not
want to take sides in the Madani issue, the Muslim League, second
largest constituent of the UDF, is worried that its inability to defend
Madani at the crucial time could affect its interests badly. At
present, a fierce war is on in the Muslim League over the position the
party should adopt towards Islamist outfits.

The Muslim League has so far not been able to convincingly deny the
charge made by Madani that it was being ungrateful after taking his
support in the 2001 Assembly election. Madani had produced a letter
allegedly written by none other than PK Kunhalikutty, State general
secretary of the Muslim League, requesting for his help in the election
when he was detained in a Coimbatore prison in the 1998 serial blasts

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