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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Kerala: Congress in a spot over Indian Union Muslim League's demand for a third Lok Sabha seat

The party that successfully contested from Ponnani and Malappuram Lok Sabha seats in 2019 has been seeking a third seat considering its political weight, especially in the Malabar region that includes Wayanad, which gave a thumping majority to Rahul Gandhi

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 25.02.24, 05:47 AM
AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal

AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal File picture

The Congress is in a quandary as its principal ally in Kerala, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), has refused to budge from its demand for a third Lok Sabha seat.

The party that successfully contested from Ponnani and Malappuram Lok Sabha seats in 2019 has been seeking a third seat considering its political weight, especially in the Malabar region that includes Wayanad, which gave a thumping majority to Rahul Gandhi.

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IUML national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty has said the party would not dilute its demand for a third seat this election although the Congress put forth a compromise formula by offering a second Rajya Sabha seat to the party.

While Congress leaders have openly admitted that the IUML has every right to seek a third seat considering its strength, they were non-committal on whether the party would eventually heed the demand.

There is nothing wrong in a party like IUML asking for one more seat,” AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal told reporters on Saturday. “We will go forward by consulting each other. Isn’t all this quite natural in coalition politics?”

With the situation threatening to go out of hand with just weeks to go for the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress deferred Sunday’s United Democratic Front (UDF) meeting on seat sharing. Instead, a Congress-IUML meeting will be held to address the situation.

However, IUML leaders showed no signs of any compromise. “We don’t agree with this. The party will meet and decide on what to do,” Lok Sabha member E.T. Mohammed Basheer told reporters when asked about the Congress formula of two Lok Sabha seats plus a Rajya Sabha seat.

However, he refused to comment on reports about sections within the party urging the leadership to go it alone.

State IUML general secretary P.M.A. Salam defended his party’s stand saying he was confident of winning from any seat in Kerala. “We are capable of winning from any of the 20 seats in Kerala. Didn’t the UDF win 19 seats last time?” Salam countered when asked if the third seat would be in north Kerala, which has a considerable Muslim presence.

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