KOZHIKODE: The CPM strongman from Kannur P Jayarajan has finally got a formidable opponent in K Muraleedharan as battlelines are drawn in Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency. The day it became clear that Jayarajan would enter the fray from Vadakara, the LDF’s vigour had doubled. Adding to the CPM-led front’s confidence was the utter confusion in the rival camp in terms of candidature. With the clouds of uncertainty now disappearing, it’s time for the Left to pull up its socks as the UDF candidate Muraleedharan is no pushover.
A three-time MP from neighbouring Kozhikode constituency and currently the MLA from Vattiyoorkavu, Muraleedharan was the best the UDF could offer at this juncture in Vadakara.
With Mullappally Ramachandran adamant that he would not contest this time, the Congress local leadership even explored the option of backing RMPI leader K K Rema. However, the Congress High Command’s insistence on fielding the party’s own candidate and UDF allies insisting on putting up a heavyweight to take on Jayarajan finally prevailed.
Vadakara is a red citadel with all but one of the seven Assembly segments in the Left kitty. The only elusive constituency, Kuttiadi, is held by the Indian Union Muslim League. The League also enjoys considerable sway in a few neighbouring assembly segments such as Nadapuram as well. The RMPI, founded by the late T P Chandrasekharan, has also declared its full support to the UDF candidate.
“Traditional Congress voters, RMPI supporters and apolitical voters - who are averse to casting their votes for P Jayarajan due to his links to political violence - now have an ideal option in K Muraleedharan. Also the Muslim League, which wants to ensure Jayarajan’s defeat for his alleged links to the Shukoor murder, will throw its weight behind Muraleedharan,” opined M N Karassery, political commentator.
“I don’t care who my opponent is. The contest will be between democracy and murder politics”.
That was Muraleedharan’s terse reaction after his candidature was announced. Not only has it pumped enough enthusiasm in the despondent UDF camp but it has also unsettled the Left that was hoping for a walkover.
Meanwhile, P Jayarajan seemed unfazed. “It’s not a battle between personalities but a clash of ideologies. The Congress he (Muraleedharan) represents is a replica of the RSS at many places in the country. He is also the representative of a party which adopts a soft attitude towards communalism. Let the people’s court decide,” the Kannur strongman told ‘Express’ in the midst of his hectic campaign.
According to political observer Jacob George, Muraleedharan can even be considered a better candidate than Mullappally as he does not have a decade-old incumbency baggage that the sitting MP has on his shoulders.
However, Muraleedharan cannot take for granted the total support of the minority communities. “It needs to be remembered that there are many in the minority communities who admire Jayarajan for his relentless battles with the RSS,” he opined.