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Don’t need communal votes, says IUML candidate in Azhikode, Kerala

Shaji, who is seeking election for a second term from Azhikode, has been making this clear in all his poll meetings.

Written by Shaju Philip | Azhikode |
Updated: May 3, 2016 7:21:03 am
Indian Union Muslim League, IUML, IUML candidates, kerala elections 2016, 2016 elections, elections, K M Shaji, CPM candidates, indian express elections K M Shaji (left) interacts with a voter in Azhikode. Express photo

If winning elections is the art of mustering votes from all quarters, Indian Union Muslim League candidate K M Shaji is an exception to this conventional objective.

“I contested the last elections with the rider that I didn’t want the votes of hardline elements. This time also, I tell you that I don’t want the votes of communal elements,” Shaji told an election meeting at Haji Road, a Muslim-dominated coastal village in the constituency of Azhikode.

Shaji, who is seeking election for a second term from Azhikode, has been making this clear in all his poll meetings.

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Azhikode has always elected CPM candidates, except on two occasions. Last time, Shaji wrested the constituency from the CPM, winning with a margin of 493 votes. This time he is taking on journalist-turned-politician M V Nikesh Kumar, who is contesting on a CPM ticket.

Apart from the BJP, right-wing Muslim party Social Democratic Party of India too is in the fray.

“The SDPI wants to defeat me because of my stand. They had around 3,000 votes and the party hopes to defeat me by entering into a nexus with the CPM,” Shaji said.

This time, Shaji’s spurning of “communal votes” has an added significance. Part of his constituency is Narath, where an arms training camp was conducted leading to the conviction of SDPI men. “The NIA probed the case and 21 men of the Popular Front of India and SDPI, its political outfit, were sentenced to jail terms between five and seven years. I took a strong stand in the Narath arms training case and hence the SDPI is very actively campaigning against me,” Shaji said.

Although the 21 belong to the region, their arrest has not necessarily turned villagers against Shaji. “Yes, 21 Muslims from the region are in jail and everyone knows the role Shaji played to ensure the accused are punished. But right-thinking people will still support Shaji in the elections as his stand is very clear,” said Shamsudheen K V of Narath.

An SDPI leader in Pappinassery, C Shafi, said Shaji’s objective is to win RSS votes and his target is mainly the CPM and the SDPI.

“Twenty-one Muslim youths are in jail due to his tough stand. It is essential for our party to defeat Shaji.”

Shaji’s posture has not prevented the growth of the SDPI. “In the last assembly election, we won 2,900 votes, which grew to 4,500 in the Lok Sabha elections. Now, we expects to gain 6,000 votes,’’ C Shafi said.

Shaji leads a strong contingent of young activists, something one would normally associate with a CPM candidate.

“This constituency remains a Left citadel,” Shaji admits, “but I am banking on my work in the last five years. I have brought development of Rs 450 crore, and no one can raise any corruption charge against me. Around 35 per cent of beneficiaries of the government’s social security mission in Kannur district are from my constituency.”

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