Thiruvananthapuram

In-house tussle, a worry for UDF in Varkala

A bitter stand-off between the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in the coastal wards of the Varkala municipality is proving to be a major headache for the United Democratic Front (UDF), which hopes to put up a strong fight to wrest the local body in the upcoming elections.

Blaming the Congress for ignoring its demands for more seats, the IUML has put up its own candidates in seven crucial coastal wards. With the Congress too fielding its candidates here, the ground is set for an ‘in-house tussle’ between the UDF partners, amid the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front’s (LDF) efforts to retain its hold over the 33-seat municipal council.

The IUML candidates are contesting on the party symbol, ladder, in Idapparambu, Nadayara, Raghunathapuram, Panayil, Vallakadavu, Kottumoola, and Maithanam. Of this, four seats had been won by Congress candidates in 2015.

Talks within the UDF to diffuse the crisis did not succeed, leaving the front with a situation which could prove critical when the votes are counted on December 16. According to local IUML leader and former Congress man A. Davood Varkala, the Congress was adamant in its refusal to grant seats to his party, which prompted it to field its own candidates. “We requested six seats, but the Congress was not willing. We are optimistic that we can win in the seven coastal wards on our own,” Mr. Davood said.

While the IUML could influence “some voters,” the Congress was confident of clinching a majority in the Varkala municipality, former MLA Varkala Kahar, who is helming the Congress campaign, said. The other UDF constituent, Revolutionary Socialist Party, is contesting in one seat, Teacher’s Colony.

‘Outrageous demands’

“We were ready to offer two seats, but they made outrageous demands. We also gave them time for a rethink,” Mr. Kahar said. According to him, the situation in the coastal wards would not spoil the UDF’s overall chances in the municipality which was under LDF rule in the past five years.

In 2015, the LDF had captured Varkala from the UDF by winning 18 of the 33 seats in the municipal council. The UDF had won 12 and the BJP, three.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:47:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/in-house-tussle-a-worry-for-udf-in-varkala/article33185694.ece

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