KOZHIKODE: It’s official. After much speculation, the National Secular Conference, a party that wields influence in certain pockets of north Kerala, has decided to merge with Indian National League that has recently been inducted into the LDF fold. While many would see nothing beyond a natural coming together of two groups with similar stance and outlook, political observers see it as an enactment of a CPM-penned script aimed at making deep inroads into Muslim-dominated areas of Malabar.
Those suspecting a CPM hand in the merger have reasons to believe so. The induction of INL, after a prolonged wait of 25 years, was itself seen as a calculated move by the Left to make up for the possible loss of support from certain communities post the Sabarimala developments. However, garnering Muslim votes would first require stalling the IUML juggernaut in its stronghold - a reason that prompted the INL-NSC merger.
“In its bid to establish toehold in Muslim-dominated areas of north Kerala, the Left is ironically expanding towards the right. In no way can parties like INL and NSC be called secular though they use the word frequently. The impact the merger would have on the upcoming election may not be that significant. However, in the 2021 Assembly polls, the role of a strengthened INL could be decisive in some Assembly segments,” opined Hamid Chennamangaloor, social critic.
Meanwhile, doubts have been expressed about the support base of both parties. In the previous Assembly election, INL contested three seats but drew a blank in all three. However, with the added strength of NSC, which has considerable influence in Koduvally and Kunnamangalam Assembly segments in Kozhikode, INL could play spoiler for UDF in Muslim-dominated areas in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“The INL may not be in a position to cause much stir given its low cadre strength. However, the entry of K T Jaleel, who reportedly played a major role in this merger, and his efforts in the further unification of anti-League groups can make a big difference,” said Prof Sajad Ibrahim, head of the Department of Political Science, University of Kerala.