MALAPPURAM: After the Vigilance seized Rs 50 lakh from the house of IUML leader K M Shaji, leaders from the Opposition parties criticised him for keeping a large amount of money at his house without proper papers. However, IUML leaders, including P K Kunhalikutty and Panakkad Sadik Ali Shihab Thangal, later rallied behind Shaji and claimed the raid was politically motivated. The developments also generated debates on groupism in IUML and corrupt deals of its leaders.
“There is no doubt the raid was politically motivated. All candidates find money for election expenses by accepting donations. After the election, candidates have to make many payments related to poll work. However, the Vigilance raided the place before the expenses were settled,” Kunhalikutty said. IUML Malappuram district president Sadik Ali said the state government had been hunting Shaji and that IUML would stand with him.
The reactions from top leaders came after IUML faced criticism that some people inside it might have paved way for the raid. Rumours are rife that a group in the party that is disturbed over rise of Shaji as a strong leader might be behind the raid. Political observers believe Shaji might be a victim of groupism. INL leaders said Kunhalikutty’s statements should be taken as a bid to appease the group led by M K Muneer, to which Shaji belongs.
“There are two unofficial groups in IUML. The statement by Kunhalikutty is an attempt of the group led by him to appease the one led by Muneer. The statement was made as both groups had earlier supported leaders M C Kamarudheen and V K Ebrahim Kunju, who belong to Kunhalikutty group, when corruption cases were registered against them,” INL Malappuram district general secretary Anvar Sadath said. Political observers say the fight between Shaji and CPM is apparently the main reason for the raid.
DYFI state president A A Rahim had severely criticised IUML and Shaji after the raid. He said IUML supports corrupt leaders. “A sum of Rs 10 lakh was concealed under the refrigerator, `20 lakh was hidden in an old TV set and Rs 14 lakh was placed in the flush tank of a toilet. Still, Shaji tries to escape from the offence citing Ramadan month and religion. IUML leaders believe they can escape from any offence using religion as a defence. There will not be any change in the party position on Kunju for building structurally-weak Palarivattom bridge,” Rahim said.