Students from various parts of Kerala and the country have been seen pouring in to Malappuram parliament constituency of the state, both individually and in small groups. Young student leaders are busy with election campaigns in various points of the constituency. Yes, the student community across the state, even outside the state, are in full swing to work for their leader and young comrade VP Sanu, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate from the Malappuram parliamentary constituency in elections 2019.
Sanu, the national president of Student Federation of India (SFI) and district committee member of Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI(M), has been at the forefront of student protests across the country for last few years. Though he is contesting in the bastion of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)- an ally in the United Democratic Front (UDF), that has not affected the hopes of Sanu and his comrades. The young group along with party workers is tirelessly campaigning to ensure the victory of the Left front.
Addressing the real issues of people rather than hiding away from those, they speak about the centre's policies that have spoiled the higher education system and the public education sector, privatization of public sector undertakings, agrarian distress and pro-corporate policies and atrocities against minorities, Dalits and women.
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Along with door to door campaigns on the ground, online campaigns are also active for Sanu, like all other Left candidates in the state. Social media is flooded with videos, posters and pictures of Sanu. Apart from the local and national support, international student leaders and activists have come in solidarity with Sanu and support is pouring in the form of video messages.
Doug Yearwood, the founding member of Kingston Peace Council and the vice president of Public Service Alliance of Canada, said that a strong Left is important for a secular India. “Student politics is a breeding ground of future politics and political education is essential to fight against fascism. Sanu will win the election to fight Hindutva.”
Extending his support to Sanu, a student leader from Bolivia, Alejandro Bascope Alipaz said that education is the most crucial element to resist religious fascism and the world needs a new age of politics with vision. Apart from Yearwood and Alipaz, many others from various parts of the world came in support of Sanu.
As Malappuram is a Muslim dominated district, RSS leaders have always been keen to target the district. Following the road show of Rahul Gandhi, Congress chief and UDF candidate of Wayanad parliament constituency, at Kalpetta in the first week of April, BJP supremo Amit Shah commented that one can’t figure out “whether Wayanad is in India or Pakistan”. He was referring to the green flags of IUML, in an attempt to create communal division.
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Shortly after Shah’s remark on Wayanad constituency, LDF’s CK Sasindran approached the state chief electoral officer and chief election commissioner seeking actions against him. Slamming Shah’s remark, the chief minister of the state, Pinarayi Vijayan said: “He insulted the people of Kerala and Wayanad. Wayanad has a glorious past. Its erstwhile king Pazhassi Raja was the first to take on the British in South India and was martyred. It is better for Shah to browse through the history of the district before mouthing strange things.”
Though the UDF has no time to counter the communal agendas of BJP, LDF has taken up the issue and they campaign against the communal polarisations.
PK Kunhalikkutty, the sitting parliamentarian of Malappuram and the UDF candidate, has been eyeing their traditional votes. UDF has enjoyed an upper hand in this constituency. In 2014 elections, E Ahamed of IUML bagged a landslide victory with a margin of over 1,94,000 votes. After the demise of Ahamed, Malappuram had gone to polls in 2017, and Kunhalikkutty made his debut entry to parliament with a majority of more than 1,71,000 votes.
Other than Malappuram, Ponnani is another district where IUML is contesting for parliament elections. Here, PV Anvar, an independent candidate backed by CPI(M), will fight against the sitting parliamentarian ET Mohammed Basheer of IUML.
Though Ponnani is also considered as the traditional stronghold of IUML, last few election results indicate that the foundation stones of the constituency are not that strong enough like in the past. In 2009 parliament elections, ET Mohammed Basheer of IUML had an easy walk over with a majority of 82,684 votes. But, in 2014, the lead had drastically dropped to 25,410 votes.
If we look at the state assembly elections of 2016, it is clear that UDF has a margin of only 1,404 votes. The assembly segments including Tirurangadi, Tanur, Tirur, Ponnani, Tavanur, Kottakkal and Thrithala come under Ponnani Lok Sabha Constituency. These figures have given rise to hopes in the left camp that they can make inroads in the IUML turf.
Shortly after the declaration of the candidates, the Congress and IUML leadership had a secret meeting with Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which is infamous for its radical views and actions. Though the IUML leadership had denied it, SDPI state president Abdul Majeed Faisy admitted it. Shortly after the meeting, CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan slammed the meeting as UDF’s attempt to play communal card in the elections 2019.
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In both the constituencies, Malappuram and Ponnani, BJP is nowhere in the picture. The enormous support from the youth and students, however, point to the change in the political colour of the constituencies. However, only the election results would say whether this support is sufficient to uproot the League candidates or not.