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It is an uphill battle for DIC(K) candidates

Tuesday 11 April 2006, by GOVIND*Biju

Murali takes on a local leader, Sankaran faces Congress ire

Kozhikode: Though it has struck an electoral pact with the United Democratic Front (UDF) for the Assembly elections, the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) is fighting for its future political space in the State. Its high-profile candidates in Koyilandy and Koduvally in Kozhikode district are finding the going tough in the keenly contested elections in these traditional UDF constituencies.

In Koduvally, State president of DIC(K) K. Muraleedharan is pitted against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Independent P.T.A Rahim, who has been expelled from the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). DIC (K) candidate P. Sankaran is seeking re-election from the Koilandy constituency, in a contest against P. Viswan of the CPI (M), who won the Koilandy seat in the 1996 elections.

Interestingly, both Mr. Muraleedharan and Mr. Sankaran were elected from the Kozhikode Lok Sabha constituency from which they are now contesting as Assembly candidates. Mr. Muraleedharan was elected twice and Mr. Sankaran once. During these Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Rahim was the UDF election convener at Koduvally.

Koduvally has not elected an LDF candidate for a long time now. The IUML candidate C. Mamootty won the previous elections by a thumping margin of over 17,000 votes. But the Janata Dal (S) candidate C. Mohasin who contested unsuccessfully in the 1996 and 1991 elections polled only 94 and 398 votes less than that polled by the IUML candidates. Koduvally, a Muslim-dominated constituency, has also not elected a non-Muslim candidate since 1977. Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed had represented this constituency in 1977.

Campaigning has picked up with banners and posters of candidates appearing throughout the constituency. Being a local man, Mr. Rahim was the first to get off the blocks in electioneering. He has already completed a round of campaign. Election committees have been set up in all the grama panchayats. Family get-togethers are being held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The DIC(K) is expected to complete the formation of the booth committees on Monday. Mr. Muralledharan is also soliciting votes from religious leaders. Initially, the Congress workers in the constituency seemed reluctant to campaign for Mr. Muraleedharan, but these problems seemed to have been sorted out for being time.

It will be a no-holds barred battle for the son of the veteran political leader K. Karunakaran, who was instrumental in splitting the Congress party and forming the DIC (K) in March 2005 and later striking an alliance with the LDF for the September 2005 local body polls. Incidentally, the DIC (K) had supported the nascent outfit formed by Mr. Rahim in the grama panchayat elections. The victory of Mr. Muraleedharan is also a matter of prestige for the IUML, which swapped its traditional seat of North Wayanad constituency to get the DIC (K) leader elected to the Assembly.

Mr. Sankaran faces a stiff challenge in Koyilandy. The local Congress leaders have turned hostile to him since he parted ways with the Congress.

The CPI (M) has already started election work for its candidate, Mr. Viswan. The Congress held this seat in 1991, 1987 and 1982.

See online : The Hindu

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