Party snapped ties with LDF after a 14-year association

The Indian National League (INL) will think of a ‘formal alliance' with the UDF only after the local body elections in the State, party State general secretary P.M.A. Salam, MLA, has said. The party had snapped ties with the LDF on Thursday last after a 14-year association.

“We will take a decision on entering the UDF on the basis of the outcome of the local body elections,” Mr. Salam, who won the Calicut-II constituency in the 2006 Assembly election as an LDF-backed candidate, told The Hindu.

There will be ‘seat adjustments' in the local body elections. “They will vote for us and we will vote for them,” he said. When pointed out that KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala had recently ruled out the inclusion of more parties in the UDF, Mr. Salam said, “we have not applied for admission.”

The INL, which broke away from the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) over the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, had been an LDF co-traveller for 14 years. The party had helped in the LDF victories in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the past in the Malabar region.

Ibrahim Sulaiman Sait, long-time MP and IUML all-India head before he formed the breakaway faction, had wanted the IUML to leave the Congress camp as he believed the party had facilitated the Masjid demolition.

The INL still believed that the Congress had a role in the demolition, Mr. Salam said adding that the party (Congress) had later regretted it. He hinted that his party did not want to harp on the Masjid issue as ‘there were many other important issues now.'

The INL left the LDF because of the LDF's ‘intolerance.' Though the INL had been a camp-follower of the LDF for 14 years, it had never been let into the front. It had applied to be made an LDF constituent, but the CPI(M) sat on the request for all these years, he said. “They only wanted ‘sambandham' (co-habitation) and not ‘veli' (formal marriage),” he commented.

Party strongholds

The INL, with pockets of strength in the Malabar region, especially Kasaragod and Malappuram, is expected to swing a section of Muslim votes from the LDF to the UDF camp in the September elections. In Kasaragod, the main base, the party holds close to 40 seats in local bodies, including the district panchayat.

The INL was instrumental in the LDF getting access to the Muslim vote bank as the erstwhile Kerala Congress (J) could link the LDF to the Christian community. The LDF, especially the CPI(M), could not woo a substantial section of the Muslim community in spite of its working class moorings. The CPI(M)'s failure to pick up leaders from the community is stated to be one reason. Given the ‘herd mentality' of the Muslim peasantry and working class, a charismatic leader in the mould of the late trade unionist Kunjali could have taken a sizable section of the new generation Muslims, who resent IUML's politics, to the Left. The INL, to some extent, had been able to channel this section to the LDF.

It is generally believed that the INL will, in due course, merge with the IUML. IUML remained neutral when many UDF constituents objected to the recent Kerala Congress merger was perhaps due to the anticipated merger of INL with it (IUML). The INL entry into the UDF might be through the ‘merger door,' the way P.J. Joseph did it. But the INL may have to wait longer.

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