The Congress will emerge as the single largest party in the upcoming Lok Sabha election and provide a strong alternative to the BJP at the Centre, according to Indian Union Muslim League national general secretary PK Kunhalikutty.
In an interview by Express Chief Reporter Sovi Vidyadharan, Kunhalikutty - who is seeking a re-election from Malappuram - added the LDF will get a befitting electoral reply for its failure in governance and also for mishandling the Sabarimala issue. Excerpts.
Q: While scaling down the demand for three seats to two, the IUML state president said it was done to help the Congress emerge as the single largest party. Are you confident of that outcome?
A: I do not want to reopen a discussion on seat sharing as it is a closed chapter. But the Congress emerging as the single largest party in the country is the need of the hour. Only then can it get an invitation to form the government and rally together all secular forces to provide a strong alternative to the BJP and its anti-people policies.
Q: The Election Commission has warned against using the Sabarimala issue for divisive political propaganda. Yet your ally, the Congress, has reiterated it will highlight the Sabarimala issue?
A: The Election Commission has warned against misusing the Sabarimala issue. However, the issue can be highlighted within limits and in a law-abiding manner. There is widespread criticism in the way Sabarimala issue has been handled. This, along with misgovernance, will have an adverse electoral impact on the LDF.
Q: Your absence during the crucial discussion and voting on triple talaq bill in Parliament will be widely used by your rivals during the campaign. How will you counter it?
A: Ironically, those who criticise me have never uttered a word on this contentious issue in public. Though I was absent in Parliament, I effectively coordinated the discussion when the triple talaq bill came up for discussion. People know it very well and attempts by rivals to use it politically will have no impact.
Q: Do you believe Ponnani LS constituency, where the League lost three Assembly seats, is an unsafe zone for the League? What about the strained Congress-League relations in the constituency?
A: Such reports are baseless. The UDF is campaigning as a single unit in Ponnani. Remember, we have never lost in Ponnani Parliament seat. During every election, our rivals unleash false propaganda saying things are not well for the League in Ponnani. This time, when we win with a massive margin, you will realise all the propaganda was baseless.
Q: In Vadakara, the League has considerable influence especially in Assembly segments such as Kuttiadi. P Jayarajan is the LDF candidate. What will be your strategy there?
A: The CPM has posed a challenge to peace-loving people by fielding P Jayarajan in Vadakara. We are very confident it (LDF) will get a befitting reply for it in the election.
Q: K K Rema of RMPI is likely to contest in Vadakara against P Jayarajan. Does UDF see a political opportunity here which can be effectively utilised?
A: Since it is a sitting seat of the Congress, it is for the party to decide. But one thing is clear, in the wake of Jayarajan’s candidature, any person fielded or backed by the UDF will definitely win.
Q: The stance of the Left-oriented AP Sunnis and the induction of INL into the LDF. How are these factors going to play out in Muslim League strongholds?
A: In the upcoming election, regional issues have very little relevance. Any Muslim organisation that has a national outlook and relevance will only back the UDF led by the Indian National Congress. There may be many regional issues. But remember, even the CPM is allying with the Congress in West Bengal. Then why should other organisations hesitate? Only the Congress can take on the BJP so it is obvious that secular forces will support the UDF in this election.
Q: During all elections, League faces the criticism that women are not adequately represented in electoral politics. Why has this issue not been resolved?
A: Women representation is applicable to all political parties. At present, we have not discussed the issue. After all, we have only two seats to contest in the Lok Sabha election.