North Kerala: To keep BJP out, rivals LDF, UDF raise beef row

Recently, when the beef controversy raged across the country, Kerala remained calm.

Written by Shaju Philip | Kasaragod | Published:May 11, 2016 12:59 am
kerala assembly elections 2016, beef row, beef ban, north kerala, BJP, LDF, UDF, Kerala’s Kasaragod constituency, textile trader, IUML, indian express elections, indian express news BJP candidate from Kasargod, Raveesha Thantri , campaigns in the constituency.

At Uppala town in north Kerala’s Kasaragod constituency, textile trader Asif K said he only had to look across the border, to Mangalore in Karnataka, to know how “dangerous” the BJP could be. “When the BJP was in power in Karnataka, their workers terrorised Muslims and embarrassed them with all their moral policing. Recently, when the beef controversy raged across the country, Kerala remained calm. But Sangh Parivar men waylaid cattle trucks in the villages of Kasargod that border Karnataka,’’ said Asif.

With the Assembly election in Kerala a week away, all the parties that are in contention in Kasargod and Manjeshwar, both Muslim-dominated seats, realise that if the BJP hopes to get its foot in the door in Kerala, it’s this region that will hold the key. In Manjeshwar, the BJP has been the runner-up in the last five Assembly elections, while in Kasargod, the party has stood second in elections since 1987. The BJP has been gaining ground in these constituencies mainly because of the communal polarisation that has been getting sharper with the election date drawing closer.

The ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) are doing everything they can to keep the BJP away, including reminding voters such as Asif of what the BJP is “capable of doing”. “Beef is a sensitive issue in this region. Hence, both the UDF and LDF are keeping the topic alive to woo Muslim voters,” said Asif.

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At Manjeshwar, the BJP has fielded K Surendran, who is contesting his second election. Here, P B Abdul Rasack of the UDF’s Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and CPM’s P K Kunjambu, a former legislator, are caught in a triangular contest with the BJP. Although Kunjambu belongs to a Hindu caste of weavers, a prominent Muslim Sunni group, which has considerable presence in the constituency, is backing him.

In Kasaragod, the BJP has fielded Raveesha Thanthri, vice-president of Kerala Hindu Akiya Vedike, as its candidate. He will take on sitting IUML legislator N A Nellikunnu and Left-backed candidate N A Ameen. In Kasaragod, the BJP hopes the Muslim votes will get divided between the UDF and LDF, both of which have fielded Muslim candidates.

A senior Kerala BJP leader said he fears the party’s rivals will do everything to keep the party out. “In an Assembly election held two decades ago in Manjeshwar, the party lost by a mere 800 votes. Ever since, Muslim voters have started ganging up against us. I fear the Prime Minister’s campaign rally last week will lead to a further Muslim consolidation,’’ he said.

The BJP is also worried about the “growing Muslim numbers” in these two constituencies. Manjeshwar has 18,000 new voters and Kasaragod has 17,500. The BJP says these new voters are almost all from Muslim areas. Its opponents believe it’s important for Muslims to stay together to keep the BJP out.

CPM leader Rasheed Cherugoli said, “Muslims here are wary of the BJP. Despite differences of opinion, all Muslim organisations have remained united here to take on the BJP. Several young Muslims have joined the CPM since it is the only party that can check the growth of the BJP.’’

In both these constituencies, the right-wing Muslim outfit, Social Democratic Party of India, known for taking on the Sangh Parivar, has not fielded any candidate to ensure that the Muslim votes do not get divided in the battle against the BJP.

In many villages, people openly say that the electorate belonging to the UDF and LDF will vote en-bloc to keep the BJP out. “Hindus are divided, but Muslims stay united in these two constituencies. They won’t let their votes split — they will vote either for UDF or LDF,” says Janardhana Poojari, a BJP supporter at Sonkal village in Kasargod.

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  1. A
    Ajitdada
    May 11, 2016 at 2:02 pm
    Vedanta project in Orissa exposes Sinister plans of churches. . Invest Church money in corporations who takes away peoples land then send the churches to wipe their tears and convert them... How $$ dolled to priests who sends monthly head count of converts to American missionaries and gets a trip to US.
    Reply
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      ak dev
      May 11, 2016 at 5:58 am
      What BJP could not do in Kerala, LDF and UDF jointly would do to unite Hindus in favor of BJP. It's a well known strategy to get Muslims vote by abusing Modi, RSS and raising fear among Muslims. Muslims have always fallen pray to this strategy. There may be several conclusions from this behavior of Muslims but most important is that Muslims can never live peacefully with Hindus i.e. Hindus and Muslims are two different worlds. Left parties and Congress see their life line in keeping this divide.
      Reply
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        ANIL P.
        May 11, 2016 at 4:38 am
        If Muslims vote as muslims to keep one party out then who is communal ? Why blame BJP for polarizing ? Are the leftists sickular award wapasi brigade alive and listening ? Where are their members ?
        Reply
        1. A
          Archpagan
          May 11, 2016 at 7:23 am
          Monotheism is only an euphemism for intolerance.
          Reply
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            Archpagan
            May 11, 2016 at 7:26 am
            Yes, Chalukyas fought Pallavas, but not to convert each other, which Mohammedans have been all along the History. Apply your mind, .
            Reply
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              Archpagan
              May 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm
              The word 'Hindu' was unknown when Chalukyas fought Pallavas. They fought over territory, while Mohammedans all along fought to kill or convert.
              Reply
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                Archpagan
                May 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm
                Who will fight terrorists?
                Reply
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                  Babu Gupta
                  May 11, 2016 at 10:51 pm
                  That is how intelligent, brave and very tolerant Hindus have been in slavery for thousand years. Unity is the demand of time to survive.
                  Reply
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