With its electoral association with the PDP becoming an embarrassment and a target for attack from allies,the CPI(M) central leadership has directed its Kerala unit not to share the stage with Abdul Nassar Madhani,who is accused of having links with Islamic extremist groups,during campaigning.
It is learnt that the CPI(M)s central leadership has taken a view that although there is nothing wrong in accepting PDPs support,the party should not be seen as diluting its secular credentials for votes by unnecessarily promoting the PDP chief. This directive comes at a time when Muslim outfits like the Jamaat-i-Islami-Hind are upset with CPI(M)s open flirting with Madhani.
While the Kerala unit was actively involved in defending Madhani,with state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan sharing a stage with a PDP leader in Ponnani,the central leadership has been trying hard to sell the line that the PDP is not a part of the LDF and the CPI(M) has only accepted support offered by it. This line,however,has not found favour with allies CPI and RSP,who have been maintaining that the PDP is a communal outfit. There are also reports that Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan is unhappy with the CPI(M)-PDP tie-up and has complained to the Politburo,a development though denied by general secretary Prakash Karat and VS himself.
CPI(M) leaders including Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan have been arguing that the cases against Madhani,who was acquitted in the 1998 Coimbatore serial blast case,are politically motivated at a time when a probe into Keralas terror links with Kashmir has revealed that many key players in the network had close links with his family or were his followers.
While it has already enlisted the support of the PDP,the CPI(M) is also wooing the Jamaat in Kerala and West Bengal and has even made a mention of the Ranganath Mishra Committee in its campaign documents. The Jamaat has been demanding implementation of the Mishra committee report which recommended 15 per cent reservation for minorities with 10 per cent exclusively for Muslims.
The CPI(M) recently held a round of discussion with the Jamaat leadership in Kerala and it is learnt that the partys central leadership has sent a message to the outfitss top brass here that West Bengal state secretary Biman Basu would also like to meet Jamaat leaders in the state. Interestingly,while the Jamaats central leadership is in favour of supporting the Left for ensuring a third alternative,the state units of the outfit are not that enthused.
Sources in the Jamaat said,it has not taken a decision so far and is weighing all options as talks are also on with the Congress. During the meeting Jamaats Kerala state chief T Arifali had with CPI(M) leaders,led by state minister Elamaram Kareem,it has been clearly stated that the outfit is not happy with the functioning of the Education Ministry and the CPI(M)s decision to field PDP favourite Hussain Randathani from Ponnani,sources said. Similar is the case with West Bengal,where local Jamaat leaders have already met Trinamool chief Mamata Bannerjee. The CPI(M) central leadership has conveyed that Basu would like to meet us. We are working out the dates and time, a senior Jamaat leader told The Indian Express.