For two decades political traffic in Kerala flowed in one direction --- towards the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front. With fair-weather comrades leaving the fold, there is now traffic in the other direction.
TK Hamza was one of the earliest to switch to the LDF from the United Democratic Front. He was president of the Malappuram district Congress committee when he earned the hostility of K Karunakaran, who had total sway over the party at the time.
It was a time of flux in state politics. A Congress faction which was in alliance with the CPI-M had just walked out. The CPI-M persuaded Hamza to contest the 1982 elections as an LDF-backed independent. He defeated Aryadan Mohammed.
When the LDF came to power in 1987 Hamza became a minister. Later he grabbed for the LDF the Lok Sabha seat from Manjeri, over which the Muslim League had a monopoly.
Joining the CPI-M, he rose to the level of state committee member. His website is silent on his Congress days. Obviously he wants to hide his Congress past.
Another UDF member who travelled in the same direction was Lonappan Nambadan. Elected to the Assembly on the Kerala Congress ticket in 1977 and 1980, he turned a rebel and was elected four more times -- as an LDF-supported independent. Like Hamza, he too served a term as minister.
In 2004, the CPI-M put him up for the Lok Sabha from Mukundapuram. He contested this time on the party ticket and won.
In 1997, when there was a by-election to the Lok Sabha from Ernakulam, a Congress stronghold, the CPI-M cast its net wide, reckoning an independent with the right religious affiliation might fare better than a party nominee. The strategy paid off. Sebastian Paul, a journalist turned lawyer, whom it fielded as an LDF independent, won the seat.
He could not retain the seat in the next general election but was able to enter the Assembly through a by-election. In 2004, he successfully contested for the Lok Sabha once again. However, in 2009 the party dumped him.
AP Abdullakutty, who hailed from a family with Congress connections but strayed into Left politics as a student, was serving as a member of the Kannur district panchayat when the CPI-M asked him to contest for the Lok Sabha. He defeated Congress leader Mullapally Ramachandran and was hailed as a ‘wonder boy’. He repeated the performance in 2004.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections the CPI-M fielded a young government doctor, KS Manoj, who had been active in a Latin Catholic community organisation, as LDF-backed independent in Alappuzha. He defeated Congress stalwart VM Sudheeran by a small margin.
When KT Jaleel, a leader of the Muslim League’s youth wing, fell out with the party leadership the CPI-M received him with open arms. He defeated League strongman PK Kunhalikutty in the 2006 Assembly election as an LDF independent.
The reverse traffic began with Abdullakutty, who was not given the party ticket to contest last year’s Lok Sabha elections, quitting the CPI-M and joining the Congress. Within days the Congress asked him to contest the Assembly by-election in Kannur and he trounced his former CPI-M mentor MV Jayarajan.
Dr Manoj, who had sought and been given CPI-M membership, contested the Lok Sabha elections again last year. However, he lost to Congress candidate KC Venugopal. Last month he resigned from the party.
The CPI-M had reiterated recently that elected representatives should not observe religious rites. Both Abdullakutty and Manoj cited this as the reason for their defection.
Last week S. Sivaraman, who had been elected to the Lok Sabha once from the Ottapalam reserved constituency, announced his decision to leave the CPI-M. He said party leaders did not practise what they preached.
Apparently all three ex-MPs quit the CPI-M after making sure that the Congress will keep its doors open for them. There are reports that the Congress is looking out for other possible defectors.
Significantly, all three ex-MPs who quit the CPI-M are young men. Within the party hierarchy, none of them could go beyond the area committee stage. Their departure is indicative of growing alienation between the party and the minority communities, whom it had wooed assiduously in recent years, and the Dalits, who have been its ardent supporters since long. --Gulf Today, February 8, 2009