WPI turns on Congress-led UDF

The front sees this as a ruse to strike an electoral pact with CPI(M)

Published - January 10, 2021 09:04 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

The Welfare Party of India (WPI), the political arm of the Jamaat-e-Islami, appeared to have turned on the United Democratic Front (UDF), its ‘one-time election ally.’

WPI State president Hameed Vaniyambalam told The Hindu that the party would have no truck with the Congress-led alliance in the Assembly polls. The WPI had worked to the advantage of the UDF in the local body polls. However, the Congress had forsworn the understanding despite having benefited from the compact. The WPI would now go it alone in the Assembly elections.

(The Congress has reportedly viewed the move as the precursor of a covert WPI-Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] pact ahead of the Assembly elections. Such an arrangement had existed in local body polls in 2015. The WPI has denied the Congress charge)

Mr. Vaniyambalam said the WPI would field candidates in party strongholds. It was too early to name the constituencies. The party would also wield its considerable social influence and organisational strength in other regions to exact maximum political advantage.

Mr. Vaniyambalam said south and central Kerala were not impervious to WPI influence. The nine-year-old party had won four seats on its own in Thiruvananthapuram. Similarly, the WPI had made gains in Ernakulam (six), Alappuzha (one) and Kollam (three).

The WPI had given a leg-up to the UDF in the 2019 Parliament elections because it viewed the Congress as a secular national-level alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Another party insider said the WPI was the victim of Congress infighting. UDF convener M.M. Hassan had found himself isolated in the party for having parleyed with Jamaat-e-Islami Amir M.I. Abdul Aziz at the behest of the Congress leadership.

However, the Congress backtracked when the poll result did not meet its expectations. KPCC leadership had scapegoated the WPI for the party's poor showing. The LDF had raised the bogey of UDF courting fundamentalists. In some measure, the LDF campaign had succeeded in driving Hindu and Christian votes from the UDF. The "fall out" of the "electoral pact" with the WPI had forced the Congress to "rebuild bridges" with other community leaders.

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