More than a month into the ban of its parent outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), its political wing Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has become more active in Kerala. SDPI is the only outfit among the PFI affiliates that survived the September 28 Union government ban, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Unfazed by the ban on PFI, the SDPI appear to be jostling for more space in the state’s mainstream politics, with public protests on current issues, price rise, the campaign against drug abuse and siding with the protesting Catholic fishermen in the Vizhinjam seaport agitation. In social media, the SDPI is also active in its campaign against the Sangh Parivar “agenda” pertaining to recent developments.
The party contested in the bypolls for civic bodies held earlier this week. At Pattimattom division in Vadavucode block panchayat in Ernakulam, its candidate improved the party’s vote share. The SDPI candidate had bagged only 370 votes in 2020, but this time, its candidate increased the numbers to 479, even though both Twenty-20 of the KITEX Group and CPI(M) had put up Muslim candidates.
The increase in SDPI’s vote share in Pattimattom division is significant, as the PFI had been drawing flak for unleashing violence during a strike it had called on September 23, in protest against NIA-ED raids on its premises across the country. Around 2,600 PFI men have been arrested in connection with the violence, and many of them are still in jail, as the High Court wanted the people arrested to pay for damages to obtain bails.
According to the SDPI state president, Moovattupuzha Ashraf Moulavi, the ban on the PFI has not impacted the activities of the SDPI. “We have taken a decision to keep away PFI men from the organisational structure of the SDPI due to the ban. The ban on the PFI has not hit us. The SDPI is getting more sympathisers, as people have realised there is a bid to silence the voice of dissent. There are people who think that the SDPI should come out stronger in the current political scenario,’’ he said.
On November 1, the state’s formation day, the SDPI held a seminar on federalism and diversity of languages in Kottayam. A few weeks back, the party took out a march towards the state secretariat, in protest against the delay in release of scholarships for SC/ST students in the state. Two weeks ago, when SDPI state committee member Ameer Ali, also a PFI leader, was arrested in connection with the April murder of RSS worker S.K. Sreenivasan in Palakkad, the SDPI hit the streets across Kerala in protest.