The Malappuram Lok Sabha by-election got into top gear on Monday with IUML leader P.K. Kunhalikutty filing his nomination and CPI-M’s M.B. Faizal launching his campaign from the home of legendary Communist E.M.S. Nampoothirpad. The seat fell vacant following the death of Indian Union Muslim League leader E. Ahamed. Kunhalikutty, 65, has been a legislator since 1982 and the Industries Minister of Kerala for more than 14 years. On Monday morning, he reached the house of the party’s supreme leader Panakkad Hyderali Shihab Thangal here to seek his blessings before driving towards the office of the Malappuram District Collector. “The people in Malappuram are fully behind me. Hence my victory will not be an issue at all,” Kunhalikutty said after filing his papers.
Faizal arrived at EMS’ home and sought the moral support of the Communist veteran’s family. EMS was the country’s first Communist Chief Minister.
“I feel absolutely confident. The performance of the 10-month-old Pinarayi Vijayan government is what I will be banking on,” said the young Faizal, a member of the Malappuram district Panchayat and a leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the CPI-M youth wing.
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Kunhalikutty got a major boost when his old UDF colleague K.M. Mani, whose Kerala Congress (M) severed ties with the UDF last year, extended support to him.
Mani will take part in the IUML leader’s election rally.
The BJP, which secured 64,000 votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, got a shocker on Monday when Vellapally Natesan, the patron of BDJS, a BJP ally, accused the BJP of ignoring the allies while announcing its candidate.
“There was no consultation with the allies. Hence, the BDJS will not have any responsibility to support the BJP candidate,” Natesan told reporters.
The late Ahamed won the seat by over 1.94 lakh votes. The IUML is aiming to take up the victory margin to over 2 lakh votes.