IUML’s constituency swapping springs no surprise

After representing Ponnani since 2009, E.T. Mohammed Basheer is transferred to Malappuram, which covers his native village Vazhakkad; the CPI(M) fields K.S. Hamza at Ponnani

February 28, 2024 09:16 pm | Updated February 29, 2024 08:25 am IST - MALAPPURAM

IUML candidate E.T. Mohammed Basheer greeting people from an open jeep during his first road show at Malappuram on February 28.

IUML candidate E.T. Mohammed Basheer greeting people from an open jeep during his first road show at Malappuram on February 28. | Photo Credit: SAKEER HUSSAIN

The interchanging of Ponnani and Malappuram constituencies by their sitting MPs when the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) announced its candidates did not spring any surprise on the party watchers on Wednesday.

It was an expected move. E.T. Mohammed Basheer, sitting MP of Ponnani, had reportedly asked for a transfer to Malappuram. After representing Ponnani consecutively for three terms since 2009, Mr. Basheer has chosen to move to Malappuram, which covers his native village Vazhakkad.

Neither the IUML nor Mr. Basheer has put forth any reason for the switching of the constituencies. Party sources said that Mr. Basheer preferred Malappuram as it is his home constituency, and the IUML leadership was happy to oblige the senior leader.

However, some poll watchers have been doubtful about the real intent behind the swapping of the constituencies. They point out shifting of former IUML national president E. Ahamed from Manjeri to Ponnani in 2004, the year when the Muslim League saw its biggest upset in its parliament election history.

Mr. Ahamed had represented Manjeri consecutively for four terms since 1991. But in 2004, he moved to Ponnani, and Manjeri saw the defeat of K.P.A. Majeed by CPI(M)’s T.K. Hamza. It was an electoral debacle that the Muslim League will never forget. However, when Manjeri became Malappuram in the 2009 delimitation, Mr. Ahamed returned to Malappuram and won from there in 2009 and 2014.

However, IUML leaders are of the view that both Ponnani and Malappuram will be comfortable for the party. The CPI(M) has fielded K.S. Hamza, a former IUML man, at Ponnani under the party’s own election symbol of hammer and sickle.

The Muslim League delayed its candidate announcement until CPI(M) declared its candidates in Ponnani and Malappuram. Some poll watchers point out that the IUML did not want to field its veteran parliamentarian Mr. Basheer against Mr. Hamza in Ponnani. Hailing from Thrissur, an adjoining district where he was president of the IUML until he faced disciplinary action, Mr. Hamza is likely to exert some influence in Ponnani.

However, Muslim League workers in Malappuram district do not view Mr. Hamza as a major threat in Ponnani. According to them, Mr. Hamza was never considered a leader in Malabar, and that his name had no weight to be reckoned in a major electoral battle.

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