UDF to oppose LDF’s flagship programme, K-Rail
The Congress appeared poised to open more battlefronts against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. The next round of skirmishing between the opposing fronts might centre on the LDF’s flagship programme, K-Rail.
Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan told The Hindu the Congress feared the ambitious semi-high-speed railway project was a white elephant.
A United Democratic Front (UDF) subcommittee headed by IUML leader M.K. Muneer had studied the subject. The UDF would discuss the report on September 23 and calibrate a political response, he said.
The UDF aspired to galvanise popular local groups resisting the K-Rail project into direct political action against the government.
The controversy raging around the Pala bishop’s “narcotic jihad” sermon is likely to top the Opposition agenda.
The Congress felt that it had stolen a march on the government by initiating discussions with Christian and Muslim community leaders.
The party had arguably put the LDF on the defence by demanding an all-party meeting to mitigate the bitter controversy.
At a stroke, the Congress had also directed the political spotlight away from the disputes within the party and the UDF. It had instead highlighted the government’s “failure” to broker peace between communities and prosecute online “hate speech”.
The Congress also had weaponised Cooperation Minister V.N. Vasavan’s “one-sided” visit to the Pala Bishop House against the government.
KPCC president K. Sudhakaran slammed the LDF for not engaging Muslim community leaders simultaneously. The party felt the Minister’s “placatory call” had purportedly pushed Muslim leaders to take a hardline on the issue by insisting the Pala bishop withdraw the statement as a precursor of détente with the Church.
The LDF has pushed back against the Congress demand for an all-party meeting. CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran said in Kannur that such a round table was pointless since the government had settled the issue.
The LDF wanted to thwart the Congress gambit to draw political mileage out of the controversy by acting as a self-appointed peacemaker between two communities that constitute a crucial electoral demographic, 44% by a conservative estimate, in Kerala.
Nevertheless, the LDF has reportedly left the door open for a conclave of religious leaders instead of an all-party meeting on “narcotic jihad”.
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