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Kerala’s LDF and UDF name candidates for upcoming Vengara bypoll

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-09-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: The ruling and opposition alliances in Kerala have named their candidates for the upcoming Vengara byelection in Malappuram district, in their second test of strength after the Left Democratic Front (LDF) came to power last May.

On Monday, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), part of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), named K.N.A. Khader as its candidate. He will contest against P.P. Basheer from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which leads the ruling LDF.

While Khader is a senior IUML leader and the party’s secretary in-charge of Malappuram district, Basheer is a member of the CPM’s local area committee.

In the 2016 Kerala assembly election, P.K. Kunjalikkutty of IUML beat Basheer in Vengara by a margin of over 38,000 votes to get elected to the assembly. Kunjalikkuty, though, quit the seat in April this year, and contested and won the Malappuram Lok Sabha byelection this July, beating CPM’s M.B. Faisal.

With the Vengara seat falling vacant with Kunjalikkutty’s exit, Basheer is back in the fray as CPM’s candidate. Speaking over the phone, Basheer said he will highlight how Kunjalikkutty abandoned the seat for a Lok Sabha seat, adding he is hopeful of winning this time.

To be sure, Vengara is a traditional stronghold of IUML. But the ruling front says it is hopeful of a victory sailing on the government’s pro-welfare image.

Khader was not IUML’s first choice, though. That was IUML state general secretary KPA Majeed, but that choice faced resistance. Meanwhile, N.A. Kareem, national joint secretary of IUML’s student outfit Muslim Students Federation demanded a younger person be fielded. (Kareem was subsequently sacked from all party positions as part of disciplinary action.)

Much to the relief of the party, Majeed on Sunday said he does not want to contest. He cited on Monday his organisational responsibilities as an obstruction to take any new roles and wished Khader, who was incidentally denied a ticket in the previous assembly election, all success.

“There was no confusion in deciding the candidate. We are hopeful of winning by a huge margin,” Kunjalikutty said over the phone.

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