Kerala’s ruling Left feud over seat sharing (Second Lead)

March 13th, 2009 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Kerala’s two dominant and ruling communist parties were Friday locked in a feud over seat-sharing, a day after they joined hands with other parties to launch a Third Front for the Lok Sabha polls.
The bone of contention between the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Kerala is the Ponnani seat in Mallapuram district, which the CPI was demanding but was refused.

Ironically, the Ponnani seat is a bastion of the Indian Union Muslim League, a part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, which has been winning the seat for many years.

After late night talks Thursday on the issue failed, the CPI Friday threatened to put up candidates in all the seats that ‘big brother’ CPI-M contests in Kerala in the Lok Sabha polls unless it got to fight from Ponnani.

“We will not succumb to the pressure of the CPI-M,” CPI state secretary Veliyam Bharghavan told reporters, adding angrily: “Is this the way an alliance functions?”

“Without our support none of the CPI-M candidates will win. The CPI-M has been taking a stand which is not conducive for a political front,” he said after a party meeting.

Worried over the developments, the CPI-M central leadership said its Kerala unit was trying all options to end the crisis.

“Our party in Kerala is trying to avoid a split,” CPI-M politburo member M.K. Pandhe told IANS in New Delhi.

Bharghavan had told reporters in the morning: “We will meet on March 16 and if they don’t give us the Ponnani seat, we will put up our candidates in all seats, barring where the Kerala Congress (Joseph) is fighting and also where the Janata Dal-Secular is to get a seat.”

Of the two LDF alliance partners, Kerala Congress (Joseph) has been given the Idduki seat while JD-S is tipped to get the Kozhikode seat.

Asked by reporters if his party’s national leadership shared his opinion, the CPI leader said: “I am also part of the leadership and they are all aware.”

CPI-M’s state unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram that there was no problem in Left unity.

“Please don’t be worried. The CPI is with the LDF. Only when there is a change in their ideology, can things change,” Vijayan told reporters.

Meanwhile, CPI-M-supported independent candidate Hussain Randathany has already begun the election campaign at Ponnani.

Speaking on the issue, Vijayan clarified that it was the CPI assistant secretary K.E. Ismail who gave the green signal for Randathany’s candidature as an independent.

Vijayan refuted Bharghavan’s statement that Randathany was his candidate.

“I have not at all seen him or spoken to him. We felt an independent candidate would be the best for Ponnani, which has been won by the Indian Union Muslim League for long. Initially, the CPI agreed and then backed out,” said Vijayan.

The CPI has been insisting on putting up its candidates for the Thiruvananthapuram, Trichur, Mavelikara and Ponnani seats. While it was given the first three seats, talks over Ponnani failed.

Earlier in the day, the CPI-M had decided to send politburo member Sitaram Yechury to Kerala to broker peace with the CPI. But the party later decided against it.

In the 2004 election, the CPI-M contested 14 seats in Kerala, the CPI four and the JD-S and the Kerala Congress (Joseph) one seat each.

Polls to the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala are to be held April 16.

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