Communists prefer ‘capitalists’ as independent candidates in Kerala
The Left Democratic Front, unlike previous elections, has 11 independents contesting for them in north Kerala, several of whom are businessmen, while the United Democratic Front has four independents
The Left Democratic Front, unlike previous elections, is supporting 11 independents in north Kerala, several of whom are businessmen, while the United Democratic Front is supporting four independents, two of whom are members of a splinter political party which hasn’t yet been recognised by the state election commission.
This is unlike the 2016 elections when LDF had supported seven independent candidates, some of whom are contesting this year too, while UDF had none.
Earlier, LDF used to field prominent persons such as Justice VR Krishna Iyer, poet ONV Kurup, and media critic and cultural activist Sebastian Paul as independent candidates.
Of the 11 LDF supported independent candidates, eight are crorepatis and of the four UDF supported independents, two are crorepatis. Amongst these candidates, LDF supported candidate PV Anvar, the incumbent Nilambur MLA, has declared the highest assets, worth Rs 64 crore. He is a businessman who owns construction companies, crushers and several trading companies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Sri Lanka.
Incidentally, he also has a cheating case under Section 420 registered against him in a property-related matter.
He is followed by LDF’s Sulaiman Haji, who has declared assets worth Rs 47 crore and is contesting from Kondotty Assembly seat in Malappuram district.
A businessman from Dubai, Haji had recently landed in controversy when it came to light that he had a second wife, a 19-year-old Pakistani teenager, a fact that he did not mention in the election affidavit.
Another businessman, KP Musthafa, a former Indian Union Muslim League member, who has declared assets worth Rs 37 crore, is LDF’s candidate from Perinthalmanna in Malappuram.
Mani C Kappen, who broke away from Kerala Congress (M) in February 2021 to form Nationalist Congress Kerala (NCK) and is now contesting as part of the UDF, has declared assets worth Rs 27 crore. The son of a freedom fighter and a former Parliamentarian, Kappan had produced several popular movies in the 1990s.
UDF’s Perambra Assembly seat candidate CH Ebrahimkutty, who runs a recruitment company called Charishma, has declared assets worth Rs 8 crore.
LDF’s candidate for Chavara Assembly constituency in Kollam is Dr Sujith Vijayanpillai, who has declared assets of Rs. 4.4 crore. His father N Vijayan Pillai used to be the Chavara MLA until his death in March 2020.
V Abdurahiman, LDF’s candidate from Tanur constituency in Malappuram district, is also a businessman who has declared assets worth Rs 2.5 crore. He reportedly used to own Hindustan Unilever agencies in Malappuram.
LDF’s Ernakulam candidate Shaji George, who owns the publishing house Pranatha, has declared assets worth Rs 3 crore.
LDF’s PTA Rahim, who is contesting as an independent from Kunnamangalam in Kozhikode district, has declared assets worth Rs 2 crore. A member of the Indian National League, he war earlier with the IUML.
Rahim was allegedly named in the Karipur gold smuggling case of 2018.
KT Jaleel, the current higher education minister, who is contesting from Malappuram district’s Thavanur, has declared assets worth Rs 1.2 crore. He is a professor of history at PSMO College in Tirurangadi.
Criticising the LDF’s move, activist and left ideologue KM Shahjahan said this is a part of the decay facing the Left of late. “In Malappuram district, LDF hardly has any influence, but the party used to field hardworking party candidates. But, as a part of the decay ravaging through CPI(M), the party now fields businessmen from such seats. The candidates will pay money for these seats and spend their money to contest from these seats. These candidates will contribute to the party too,” elaborated Shajahan.
The remaining candidates are lakhpatis. LDF’s Koduvally candidate Karat Razak is a businessman who has declared Rs 74 lakh as assets. His name had cropped up in the recent gold smuggling scandal.
UDF’s Dinesh Perumanna, an independent candidate from Kunnamangalam, has declared assets worth Rs 43 lakh. Kovoor Kunjumon, LDF’s Kunnathur candidate, has declared assets worth Rs 11 lakh while UDF’s Elathur candidate Sulphikar Mayoori has assets worth Rs 5 lakh.
LDF has fielded an independent candidate, Niyas Pulikkalakath, from Tirurangadi. His affidavit was not clear on the Election Commission website. He, however, is one of the chairpersons of Kerala SIDCO, which provides marketing support to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises in the state.
Political pundits reiterate that this would lead to issues within the party. “When an election is conducted, the party rank and file will be disgruntled and vote against CPI(M). The independent candidates who have been fielded have no connection with the common people and are from the business class. When the business class contests elections, their ideology will clash with that of the rank and file. Businessmen will not take a position which goes against them,” explained Shajahan.
This will backfire, Shajahan reiterated, and added that such moves would not succeed. “In a proletarian party like CPI(M), when they field business class citizens who have no connection with the party, it goes against the ideals of the party. It will be reflected in elections,” added Shajahan. Being a cadre party, issues such as these are not discussed on public platforms.
“Once you check the election affidavits of the LDF’s independent candidates, you will see that they have been fielded in Congress and IUML strongholds. They are billionaires and that seems to be their criteria,” said Rahul Mamkoottathil, Congress ideologue and former NSUI leader.
Dinesh Perumanna was a zila parishad member and he is contesting from Kunnamangalam. He is actually a Congress worker, but as the seat was allotted to IUML, he is contesting as an independent candidate. Mamkoottathil added that several of these candidates were either Congress or IUML rebels. “They are candidates who did not show much promise with these parties, so they broke away.”
Incidentally, the two candidates with the highest declared assets in this year’s polls in the state are MV Shreyams Kumar (Rs 88 crore) belonging to Loktantrik Janata Dal, which is a part of LDF and CS Rajasekharan Nair (Rs 64.3 core) of the BJP.
Published: 02 Apr 2021, 1:50 PM