Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) general secretary P K Kunhalikutty resigned from the Lok Sabha on Wednesday ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections in Kerala. Before tendering his resignation, Kunhalikutty met IUML chairman Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal on Tuesday evening at his residence in Panakkad.
Kunhalikutty, who had been representing the Malappuram Parliament Constituency, was all set to come back to state politics even before the local body polls. Kunhalikutty in particular and IUML in general have a great influence on the state’s politics as they are the second largest party in the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF).
Recently, Kunhalikutty was given charge of the local body and Assembly elections by the IUML indicating his come back to the state politics. Following this, a group of Congress leaders including K Muraleedharan, Adoor Prakash etc had expressed their willingness to come back to state politics. But the Congress leadership was not in favour of this move.
Meanwhile the IUML’s decision to “bring back” Kunhalikutty to state politics had evoked criticism from various corners. When Kunhalikutty had contested from Malappuram in 2019 elections, the fight was being portrayed as a fight against the Narendra Modi-led ‘fascist regime’ and Kunhalikutty was portrayed as a lone fighter against fascism.
As he quit the position, the opponents and people termed it as him returning to his arena after ending his fight against PM Narendra Modi's government. However, Kunhalikutty's anti-fascist struggle in Delhi was not that memorable. But at many crucial junctures, his absence had been noted.
In 2017, following the demise of E Ahmed, Kunhalikutty had contested to Lok Sabha, after resigning from state Assembly. He contested to Lok Sabha as part of an effort to strengthen the secular forces against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But his absence in the Lok Sabha’s crucial events had created controversies. First among these was the Vice Presidential election in August 2017. The contest was between BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu and Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi. On polling day, Kunhalikutty and IUML’s Rajya Sabha member PV Abdul Wahab did not turn up. Later, both had stated that their flight was late and they could not reach.
Again, the Muslim League Leader had failed to participate in the voting on the law criminalising Muthalaq. The Lok Sabha voted on the bill at the end of December 2018. Kunhalikutty was not in Parliament on this day. That time, he was busy attending the wedding of a businessman in Abu Dhabi.
If we look at the overall performance of Kunhalikutty, his attendance in the Lok Sabha is 73%. The average attendance of other MPs from Kerala is 83%. Kunhalikutty had only 60% attendance during last year's session. During his four years as an MP, he spoke in parliament in only 28 discussions. This is when MPs from Kerala participated in an average of 35 discussions. Only 58 questions were raised by Kunhalikutty; compared to that, the average number of questions raised by MPs from Kerala is around 90.
At the time of resigning from the state Assembly in April 2017, Kunhalikutty was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. IUML and the UDF camps are hopeful about the seven=time MLA Kunhalikutty’s return to the state politics. Though the Congress and UDF leaders were against this move in the initial phase, later they calculated that Kunhalikutty’s return would help the front in coming elections.
Earlier, when the news of Kunhalikutty’s return to state politics was doing rounds, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had reacted saying, “It's a matter of happiness to see Kunhalikutty in the ‘opposition,’” indicating that the Left Democratic Front will come back to power in 2021.