Aroor MLA AM Ariff achieved political fame as the giant-killer who trounced JSS supremo KR Gowri in her own turf of Aroor in the 2006 Assembly elections. There was no looking back for the lawyer-turned-politician as he has since then retained the Assembly seat. No wonder the LDF has fielded the three-time MLA for the Alappuzha LS constituency. In an interview by Express Principal Correspondent BIJU E PAUL, Ariff exudes confidence that the LDF will wrest the constituency from the UDF after a decade.
Q. The LDF is backing Congress at the Centre. So what is its relevance in Kerala?
A. The aim of the Left parties is to fight communal and fascist forces. Neither the LDF nor the Congress is capable of doing it on its own. So the aim is to coordinate the secular forces at the Centre. The LDF can effectively function as a nucleus in the coordination of opposition. We had proved it in 2004 in preventing communal and fascist forces. The strong presence of the LDF in Parliament is necessary.
Q. Do you think the withdrawal of sitting MP KC Venugopal is an advantage to the front?
A. Venugopal is a strong candidate in Alappuzha. He has represented the constituency twice. I am not considering him as weak. His organisational responsibility led him to keep away from the contest. His sudden withdrawal created a vacuum in the UDF and the party searched for many faces for the constituency and finalised Shanimol.
Q. Is Shanimol a challenge to the LDF?
A. Shanimol is a senior Congress leader with a good base in the constituency. I won’t see her as a weak candidate. Our aim is to retain the seat, which we lost 10 years ago, and we will succeed.
Q. What is the focus of development of Alappuzha if you are elected?
A. Alappuzha was a developed port town during the pre-independent period, but it lost its charm after Independence. My aim is to bring back the charm of the city. A marina-cum-port project was mooted many years ago but is not yet fulfilled. The state government has taken up Alappuzha Heritage Project with an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore. I will try to develop the port and make the city an internationally-acclaimed one. The Central Government also proposed the conversion of Autokast to a wagon factory and an MoU was also signed, but it was not yet implemented. I will try to revive the struggling coir and seafood industries.
Q. Will the Sabarimala issue be reflected in the polls?
A. The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court had issued an order allowing the entry of women to Sabarimala shrine. If the state government opposed the order, the SC may have dismissed the state government, because the order was from the Constitutional Bench and it is the law of the land. The LDF Government never asked any women to enter the temple, but gave protection to the women. The government was only performing its duty entrusted by the SC and the public are aware of the facts.
Q. Will the growth of the NDA affect LDF?
A. The NDA or BJP cannot prevent LDF’s growth in the state. It is affecting the Congress. BJP candidate K S Radhakrishnan was an advocate of the Congress till recently. However, he jumped into the BJP camp. Many Congress leaders are going to the BJP to the detriment of the grand old party.
Q. SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan has openly supported you. Will it have an impact on your chances?
A. Vellappally’s comment supporting me has provoked other communities. I am supporting all religious organisations. I have also visited NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair at his office and I have good relations with him. The bet in my name may destroy my electoral prospects. So I am humbly requesting all leaders to avoid such kind of bets.
Q. You are also Aroor MLA. If you are elected to Parliament, a byelection will be necessitated. Will it create a loss to the exchequer?
A. The party chosen me because of my 13 years’ representation in Aroor and my developmental activities. The party thinks that my talent can be utilised for the nation. So is it fair to demand that an MLA should not contest for LS? The experience of an MLA can be utilised for the development of the country.
Q. How will the three-year rule of the LDF Government affect the election?
A. The functioning of the government has been appreciated by many national and international agencies. The crisis management of the state at the time of flood, Nipah, and other issues have received applauds. A prominent media group gave the ‘state of the states’ award to the LDF Government and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari gave away the award to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The state government is implementing a lot of projects for the welfare of people, such as in housing and health. Infrastructure development to the tune of Rs 50,000 has been initiated. In three years, even in Aroor, around Rs 1,000 crore development activities have been initiated.