LDF pins hopes on IUML dissident in Ponnani

IUML’s M.P. Abdussamad Samadani, the sitting MP of Malappuram, is entrusted with the task of defending Ponnani. But CPI(M)‘s K.S. Hamza appears certain to give a tough fight to his ex-colleague

April 02, 2024 11:41 pm | Updated 11:41 pm IST - Malappuram

Ponnani seeks attention in the 18th Lok Sabha elections largely because of two factors: the presence of K.S. Hamza, an Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) dissident contesting on the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] banner, and the shifting of incumbent MP E.T. Mohammed Basheer to Malappuram. The IUML has entrusted M.P. Abdussamad Samadani, the sitting MP of Malappuram, with the task of defending Ponnani.

Mr. Hamza, formerly Thrissur district secretary of the IUML, appears certain to give a tough fight to his ex-colleague, Mr. Samadani. Although his electoral experience is limited to supervising some previous election campaigns, Mr. Hamza is confident of his extensive contacts with the people. But Mr. Samadani is a veteran Parliamentarian.

Widely recognised as a Malayalam celebrity orator, Mr. Samadani represented the IUML in the Rajya Sabha for 12 years, in the Lok Sabha for three years, and in the Kerala Assembly for five years. He was a member of several Parliament committees during his tenures.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Mahila Morcha State president Nivedita Subramanian in Ponnani. She was in limelight when she stood by the side of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent roadshows held in Thrissur and Palakkad. Ms. Nivedita’s nomination to the 2021 Assembly elections in Guruvayur was rejected as she could not enclose the BJP State president’s letter.

IUML’s pride

The electoral history of Ponnani does not offer the Left Democratic Front (LDF) much to rave about. Rather it boosts the IUML pride. Since 1977, Ponnani has sent four IUML leaders to the Lok Sabha 12 times in a row. G.M. Banatwala represented Ponnani for 22 years in seven terms. Since 2009, Mr. Basheer represented Ponnani in the Lok Sabha for three terms consecutively.

In 2019, Mr. Basheer defeated LDF independent candidate P.V. Anvar by a huge margin of 1.93 lakh votes. But in 2014, Mr. Basheer’s margin against V. Abdurahiman (current Minister for Sports in the State Cabinet) was 25,410. In 2009, his margin against LDF independent Husain Randathani was 82,684. That was the time when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (who was CPI(M) State secretary then) campaigned for Mr. Randathani along with Peoples Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasir Maudany.

Although Ponnani remained an IUML bastion for the past 47 years, what prompts the CPI(M) to fall back on hope is the fact that four of the seven Assembly segments that constitute Ponnani are in the LDF hands. In the 2021 Assembly elections, the LDF won Ponnani, Thavanur, Tanur, and Thrithala when the United Democratic Front won Tirurangadi, Tirur and Kottakkal.

The BJP vote-share has never crossed 11% in Ponnani. In the last five Lok Sabha elections since 1999, the BJP vote-share swung around 9%. The biggest the BJP achieved was 10.87% when the Sabarimala issue was in focus in 2019.

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