Minorities may call the shots now

via PNS | Kochi published on May 13, 2011

The Congress is certain to head the next Government in Kerala after the UDF it leads won the election by a slender margin of two seats in the 140-mmber Assembly, but observers expect the minorities communities to call the shots at every turn because it may have to dependent heavily on the minority-backed parties, Muslim League and Kerala Congress (M).

The combined strength in the 13th State Assembly of the Muslim League and the Church-backed Kerala Congress (M) is 29 while the Congress tally is just 38. Congress leader Oommen Chandy has said that he does not expect any troubles in the formation of Government but observers point out that this statement itself is indicative of his worries.

Mani, who had asked for 22 seats at the start of the seat-sharing talks and could get only 15 from the Congress, has already indicated that he would be putting all the pressures he can on the Congress by stating that “I have had to suffer huge losses for the unity in the UDF which is the main reason for the victory.”

Several Left leaders have already charged that the UDF had won the election by appeasing the minority communities and this is bound to reflect on the functioning of a UDF government. Problems for the Congress are expected to crop up with the process of government formation itself when Mani and the Muslim league might stake claim for crucial Cabinet berths.

Observers feel that Mani, who has a score to settle with the Congress for humiliating him by denying him the seats he “deserved”, may even try to threaten the possibility of examining his option of switching sides to the Left fold as the LDF needs only three more seats to claim majority in the House.

“Even before the declaration of the candidates’ lists by the two fronts, there were rumours that Mani might choose to align with the Left in the face of the Congress’s refusal to allot him the seats he had asked for. He may now think of paying them back. That will put the Congress in an unenviable situation,” said a senior editor of a leading Kerala newspaper.

The Muslim League also is likely to put forward demands which the Congress would find difficult to agree to. In the first place, the Muslim League is expected to ask for a go-slow policy on the charges of sex abuse leveled against its general secretary PK Kunhalikutty, which was one of the focal points of the LDF’s campaign.

The League has proved how united the Muslim community was in considering Kunhalikutty to be innocent as it could win by huge margins 12 seats out of the total 14 it had contested in Muslim-majority Malappuram district. It also succeeded in scoring the highest victory rate in the UDF by bagging 20 of the total 24 seats it contested in the State.

Even Congress leaders are apprehensive that Muslim organizations and sections of the Christian Church with interests in the self-financing professional education sector, a lucrative business in today’s Kerala, may ask for sweeping concessions from the government the Congress is going to head.

“That would give the arms and ammunition the LDF will be waiting for to launch its attack against the UDF from the Opposition. The self-financing education sector in Kerala is presently a sleeping volcano and any wrong move in that field is sure to cause an eruption,” said a senior Congress leader.

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