Kannur, in extreme north Kerala, is the land of ‘Kalaripayattu’. It is also the killing field of CPM-RSS clashes and murders, where RSS has been resisting, for almost four decades, the CPM arrogance and hegemony of not allowing any other ideology to flourish. It was in ‘Pinarayi’ village in Kannur, that Communist Party was first formed in Kerala and the present Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan comes from that village.
Now Kannur has become another battleground with Congress and CPM at each other’s throat, with nails and teeth, for the by-poll to Kannur Assembly Constituency on November 7.
By-poll has been ordered on three assembly segments, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Kannur following election of the Congress MLAs Venugopal, K.V. Thomas and Sudhakaran to the Lok Sabha.
For long Mullapally Ramachandran of Congress (now Union Minister) was the MP from Kannur. But for two terms 1999 and 2004, AP Abdullakutty, former SFI president, wrested the seat for CPM, thanks to the large Muslim vote-bank. Due to his stand against frequent CPM bandhs, his visit to Mecca, his public namaz and praise to Narendra Modi’s development magic, he was expelled from the CPM. Worse for the CPM, Congress’s K Sudhakaran, who is no Jesus and capable of hitting back, CPM, in its own coin, got elected from Kannur Lok Sabha Constituency with a margin of over 70,000 votes. It was a vote against misgovernance, CPM’s violent and murderous politics. Also, AP Abdullakutty who joined the Congress (despite his Modi praise) helped garner the large Muslim vote-bank to Sudhakaran.
In gratitude, AP Abdullakutty has been granted the ticket to Kannur assembly, earlier held by Sudhakaran. The Nair Service Society (NSS) has strongly protested against Congress giving all three tickets to Muslims/ Christians. AA Shukoor (Alappuzha), Dominic Presentation (Ernakulam) and Abdullakutty (Kannur).
From the initial days of campaigning itself, the CPM and Congress have been trading charges of violation of ‘Code of Conduct’.
CPM accused Union Minister Vayalar Ravi of announcing sops and Congress accused LDF Ministers of announcing welfare schemes. Next came the charge of bias of the Kannur collector VK Balakrishnan and the Tahsildar, towards CPM. Sudhakaran and Congress accused that pro-CPM electoral staff have deleted 6000 pro-Congress voters and included 10,000 pro-CPM voters. Voters from neighbouring segments have been included in Kannur, accused the Congress. Media reports have also come of new voters being added in the name of CPM quarters, abandoned and demolished houses. Sudhakaran, with a large band of Congressmen, tried to assault the Tahsildar, and police case was slapped against him.
Based on Congress complaint to CEC, Navin Chawla, the Kannur collector was removed and PB Salim, posted in his place. 42 observers have been posted and central forces are coming.
CPM candidate MV Jayarajan and Pinarayi Vijayan have accused Navin Chawla of bias and accused the Congress of torpedoing the poll process.
The CPM to gain back in its stronghold, is onto a no holds-barred battle. A victory of Congress and that too its beta-noire AP Abdullakutty will be a serious loss of face to CPM. It has even roped in an NDF (jehadi outfit) candidate, Abdul Majeed Faisy to neutralise the outflow of votes to Abdullakutty.
Although the BJP has put up a candidate Ranjith, the party has called for deferment of the polls due to apprehensions of bloody violence on poll day. O. Rajagopal has said, “The sky will not fall down if Kannur poll is not held”.
CPM has always a hegemony in Kannur and it has a history of usurping the poll process to its advantage. Preventing agents of other parties in polling stations, party loyal polling officers and staff, pliant police, are some of the credits of CPM. There has been instances of agents of other parties being attacked, polling station furniture filled with ‘itching powder’ and anti-CPM voters locked up in their houses. Also in exclusive ‘CPM Villages’ of Kannur, booth capturing with 100 per cent polling are rampant.
Only god knows, what is going to happen in Kannur on November 7. With both CPM and Congress slanging it out, till the finish, like the Chekavars (Indian Gladiators) of Malabar, we can only pray to Guruvayurappan for peace.