Hameed Vaniyambalam says UDF won 35 wards in local polls due to the tie-up
The Welfare Party of India (WPI) on Tuesday appeared to wade into the swirl of post-local poll factional politics in the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
WPI State president Hameed Vaniyambalam said he had kept KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran in the loop about the WPI-Congress electoral understanding in the local body elections contrary to his denials.
WPI is the political arm of the Jamaat-e-Islami. United Democratic Front (UDF) convenor M.M. Hassan had allegedly found himself increasingly isolated within the Congress for the tie-up.
Several leaders felt that the optics of Mr. Hassan huddled up with the Jamaat-e-Islami Amir M.I. Abdul Aziz during the campaign phase had driven Hindu and Christian voters away from the UDF in South and Central Kerala.
Mr. Vaniyambalam appeared to defend Mr. Hassan by stating that the tactical alliance had helped the UDF wrest 35 wards from the LDF. Mr. Ramachandran was aware that the WPI-Congress understanding that extended to more than 100 constituencies.
The Congress’s lacklustre performance at the hustings was more due to Mr. Ramachandran’s leadership failure than because of the electoral pact with the WPI.
After the UDF’s dismal performance in the local body polls, Sathyadeepam, a leading Catholic weekly published by the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, said the alliance with WPI was ultimately self-defeating.
Soon, Yoganadam, the mouthpiece of the SNDP Yogam, echoed a similar sentiment.
The issue had prompted the All India Congress Committee (AICC) to send emissaries to speak to Christian leaders and Hindu social organisations to make amends in the run-up to the Assembly elections in May.
AICC general secretary in charge of Kerala, Tariq Anwar, met Baselios Cleemis, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, at the party’s behest. More such meetings with other community leaders were in the offing.
Mr. Vaniyambalam said the CPI(M) had attempted to demonise the WPI to polarise the electorate into rival religious factions. The party had forgotten it had benefited from the alliance with the WPI in the LSGI polls in 2015.
Now, the CPI(M) sought to vilify the WPI to stir up prejudice against Muslims. Its averments seemed to embellish the Islamophobic political narrative of the BJP, he said.
The WPI had strong secular credentials. Its cadres were not involved in any communal riot or violent political crimes, he added.
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