PONNANI: Ponnani, the writing on the wall is pretty clear. The voters here believe the constituency, which has traditionally backed the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) will indeed remain with the party in the coming election as well.
The fact that even LDF supporters in the constituency resent the CPM decision to field controversial businessman PV Anwar MLA as the LDF-backed Independent in Ponnani means the move, which was originally meant to wrest the seat, will come a cropper. The Muslim- majority constituency has remained with the IUML for the past 30 years and, until now, efforts to make inroads into the League pocket borough has been anything but successful.
“Since the time I was 23, I have been in Abu Dhabi. Nonetheless, I used to make it a point to come home during every election to cast my vote for the IUML candidate. This time, E T Mohammed Basheer will win the elections. People of Ponnani will stand by the IUML. We are also happy that Rahul Gandhi is contesting from a constituency(Wayanad) in Kerala,” said Mohammed Koya, 70, from Edappal.
Razak P, a CPM supporter, employed as a fisher at the Ponnani harbour, is livid with the CPM decision to opt for P V Anwar. “We dont know why the CPM went in for Anwar. . Anwar may get some votes but that will not be enough to defeat ET,” he said.
A look at the Ponnani’s election history reveals the IUML’s stranglehold over the constituency. It is from Ponnani where IUML veteran, the late, G M Banatwalla had made it a habit to notch up victory after victory, that too by huge margin. Though he hardly spoke any Malayalam, Banatwalla hailing from Maharashtra notched up a record seven victories - 1977, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 1999 - from the seat.
As for Basheer, he is not new to the constituency- in 2009, he garnered nearly 51 per cent of the total votes polled to defeat the LDF-backed independent by a margin of 82,684 votes. This time round, the IUML has been campaigning here with a call to prevent BJP from returning to power.
“We want to oust the BJP-NDA from power at the Centre and only the Congress has the ability to do so. Ponnani has always been remained with the UDF” said Assainar Mashu, a retired school teacher.
For the BJP, it has a few pockets with several votes which it has been steadily securing these votes irrespective of the profile of the candidate. This time, the BJP has fielded V T Rema as its candidate.
In many pockets, the LDF’s ‘vote for a change’ campaign is resonating well and the CPM feels they could well pull off an upset. “Ponnani has remained with the IUML for several years. By bringing in Anwar, the LDF has set up a plot,” said Mohammed Haji of Chungam.