Kerala

Kunhalikutty moves on to national stage

Jubilant IUML workers celebrating the byelection victory at Malappuram Junction on Monday.  

Indian Union Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty might not have succeeded in breaching the two-lakh barrier for a record victory margin, but it does not take away the spectacular way in which he achieved it, particularly the restrained manner in which his election campaign was conducted.

The victory pushes the astute Kunhalikutty to the centre stage of national politics, where he is expected to fill the void created by the death of E. Ahamed. The victory margin will certainly help him establish as leader with a popular base.

The United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front leadership can take consolation from the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance was a lowly third.

The leaders of the two coalitions, while trying to justify the election result, kept harping at the point that secular politics was in tact and the Bharatiya Janata Party continued to be irrelevant in Kerala.

For the Indian Union Muslim League, the victory helps it consolidate its position in the State and in the UDF. The party hopes to fill the growing vacuum in national Muslim politics, particularly in the context of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.

The party hopes it can project itself as a model worth emulating in terms of its steadfastness in sticking to its alliance with the Congress in Kerala down the decades.

For the Congress, the Malappuram victory is significant because the party took special care to ensure that the persistent irritants in its relations with the IUML at the local level were dissolved ahead of electioneering.

The Congress inducted every leader of note to campaign for Mr. Kunhalikutty and ensure its presence all through till polling day.

The next challenge before the UDF and the IUML is to get an apt replacement for Mr. Kunhalikutty. The focus will be on Vengara, which Mr. Kunhalikutty will vacate consequent on his election.

Even though the IUML had made it clear that Mr. Kunhalikutty would continue to head the UDF, the party will have to find someone who can handle the day-to-day interaction required to keep the coalition ties robust, something which Mr. Kunhalikutty did with aplomb.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 9:26:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kunhalikutty-moves-on-to-national-stage/article18083443.ece

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