The turmoil wrought by the re-election of a Congress rebel candidate Kuniyil Leela, to the post of Panur panchayat president, with the support of arch rivals CPM and the BJP, has opened a new chapter in the political history of the region.
Once considered a red fortress, the region has long been marred by violent clashes between the BJP and CPM. Hundreds of activists of both the parties have lost lives and many are in prison. Though the region, of late, has remained largely peaceful, the wounds inflicted by the history of bloodletting are still alive in the memories of people. Many, therefore could not comprehend the latest turn of political events in the region, marked by the unity of traditional rivals.
The CPM has been regularly losing cadre in the area in the past few years owing to strong differences of opinion with party leaders on several local issues. Panur is also one of the few regions in Kannur, where numerous people’s collectives have emerged in recent years, cutting across party lines. The frequent protests by these outfits against the alleged corruption in the administration of Panniyannur, Panur and Peringalam panchayats have been causing much headache to the leaders of all political parties. The Kottakkunnu Janakeeya Samithi, which has been fighting against the destruction of a hillock, the Panur Jankeeya Samithi which has declared war against the panchayat administration on issues such as encroachment on public property and corruption in road construction and the Janakeeya Samithi formed at Poyiloor against a quarry are examples of the Peoples’ movements.
Though, none of these protests could gain open support from mainstream parties, these stirs played a role in the ouster of Leela from the post of the panchayat president a couple of weeks ago.
The inner conflict in the Congress party, over sharing of power, further expedited her expulsion. Hence, a role in the panchayat administration turned out to be inevitable for the CPM leadership, to get a hold on dissidents and contain the protests of independent collectives.