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IUML demand for third LS seat puts Congress in Kerala on a sticky wicket | India News


Putting pressure on the Congress in Kerala, its ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has demanded three seats to contest in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Within the United Democratic Front (UDF), the Congress used to contest 16 seats, IUML two and RSP and Kerala Congress one each. While the Congress wanted to maintain the status quo, the IUML demanded one more seat, putting the seat-sharing exercise in a deadlock.

In the last few weeks, the IUML has publicly stated that the party would seek a third seat, a demand summarily rejected by Congress, which is keen to win a maximum number of seats from the southern state. IUML state chief Panakkad Sadique Ali Shihab Thangal said the party is adamant on its demand and there is no point in going back from it.

AICC general secretary K C Venugopal Saturday told the media in Alappuzha that IUML has every right to demand a third seat. However, he did not make a commitment on the IUML demand, saying that the UDF will take a unanimous decision on it. IUML general secretary P M A Salam told the media in Kozhikode that the party would raise the issue in the discussion with Congress slated for Sunday.

“We are hopeful of a positive outcome. We cannot further delay a decision. We haven’t asked for a Rajya Sabha seat. Our discussion is on the Lok Sabha seat. Based on the outcome of Sunday’s discussion, our party will meet Tuesday to decide on the next course of action,” he said.

Festive offer

In the last LS elections, the Congress-led UDF bagged 19 out of 20 seats in the state. IUML, which is the mainstay of the front in North Kerala, including Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad constituency, is demanding a third seat at a time when CPI(M)-led LDF sent feelers to the Muslim party in the recent past.

At the same time, the CPI(M) attempted to fish in troubled UDF waters. LDF convener and CPI(M) central committee member E P Jayarajan said the IUML demand is justifiable and that the party has every right to get a better deal from UDF. “Congress cannot win a single seat without IUML support. It is up to the IUML to decide whether that party should continue in the UDF, facing humiliation. We think that IUML deserves a better deal. IUML is being sidelined in the UDF due to the RSS agenda of Congress,” he alleged.

While the Congress has only 21 legislators in the State 140-member Assembly, the IUML has 15. Congress contested in 93 seats and IUML in 25 seats in the last assembly polls. Although Congress lost most of the seats contested by it, IUML could retain its strength, helping the party to flex muscles in the UDF, where other allies such as Kerala Congress (Joseph group), RSP and CMP have grown insignificant.

Congress concern

That the party does not have enough seats in its kitty to be given to IUML, is not only the concern of the Congress. If Congress allows another seat to the IUML, it will serve as a weapon for the BJP to target the grand old party as one which succumbs to the Muslim party. Such a campaign would help the BJP to wean away not only Hindu votes but also a section of Christian votes, which is very crucial in the state. The BJP may also use it as a weapon to target the Congress outside the state.





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