Even as the Union Government has proscribed Popular Front of India (PFI) and its associates for five years, the radical Muslim outfit’s political wing Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has not come under the purview of action.
Apart from PFI, the Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala, are also facing the ban under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The SDPI, formed in 2009, is a political party which has gained footprints in many states in the country. In Kerala, the outfit has been growing over the years in the political arena, mainly fighting the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the Congress. In the last civic body elections held in 2020, the SDPI managed to win 100-odd seats in Kerala. In a few local bodies, SDPI has extended support to the CPI(M)-led LDF.
The Left in Kerala has had a clandestine understanding with the SDPI, which is seen as a rallying point of Muslims who are against the IUML. The tacit support the SDPI gets from the CPI(M) in Kerala is seen as the Left’s political agenda of weakening the IUML.
The SDPI also grew drawing cadres of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) founded by terror accused Abdul Nazer Madhani. The PDP lost steam after Madhani was jailed in connection with the Bangalore blast case of 2008. But, the SDPI managed to attract PDP cadres in large numbers.
While the PFI has only Muslim workers, the SDPI has non-Muslims as well, particularly Dalits, among its activists. Thulaseedharan Pallickal and Roy Arackal are two non-Muslim faces in the state leadership of the SDPI.
It is prima facie believed that the SDPI banner would help PFI beat the ban. Although PFI men are SDPI activists and vice-versa, both organisations have been sailing as different entities. Whenever SDPI men were involved in crimes and political killings, the PFI has remained silent leaving the onus of defending to SDPI.