Malappuram (Ker), Dec 23 (PTI) The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a key partner in the opposition UDF in Kerala, on Wednesday announced its national general secretary and Lok Sabha MP P K Kunhalikutty would return to state politics, months ahead of the assembly polls, due in April/May 2021.
IUML said the veteran leader would resign as Lok Sabha MP early next year and lead the party in the assembly polls.
The decision to bring Kunhalikutty back to state politics was taken at IUML's working committee here on Wednesday amid a raging debate in political circles over its reportedly growing influence in the Congress-led alliance.
IUML leader K P A Majeed said the party took the decision, 'considering the prevailing political situation.' He said Kunhalikutty will resign as MP early in 2021 to enable holding the bypoll to his vacancy in Malappuram parliament seat, along with the assembly polls.
Kunhalikutty, the national general secretary of IUML, contested and won the bye-election in Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency in 2017, which was necessitated by the demise of incumbent MP and league veteran E Ahamed that year.
He won again in 2019 from there by a thumping margin.
While Congress welcomed the decision, saying his return would strengthen the UDF preparing for the Assembly polls, the ruling LDF and BJP slammed both the League and Kunhalikutty for their 'irresponsible act', considering the additional expenditure to be borne by the state for holding the bypoll in Malappuram Lok Sabha seat.
Describing it as an internal matter of IUML, Congress said it was absolutely up to them to decide who should be their leader in the state and in national politics.
'However, as a seasoned leader and politician, Kunhalikutty's presence in state politics should help UDF in the coming Assembly polls,' state Congress general secretary Mathew Kuzhalanadan told PTI.
BJP state president K Surendran alleged that Kunhalikutty was coming back to state politics to take over the leadership of UDF, unseating the Congress.
'Muslim League is going to take over the leadership of UDF, making the Congress irrelevant.
The decision to bring back Kunhalikutty is a planned move by the League to weaken the Congress further and take control of the UDF', Surendran told reporters in Kozhikode.
He alleged that IUML was forging alliance with communal organisations like Jama-at-e-Islami and trying to 'convert Kerala a state based on religion'.
Surendran also said Congress has 'lost its self respect and become a slave of the League' in state politics.
'It is also an irresponsible act on the part of IUML. Who will bear the expense for holding the Lok Sabha by-election in the seat to be vacated by Kunhalikutty?,' Surendran asked.
Taking a dig at IUML and Congress, Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel asked whether Kunhalikutty, as 'headmaster of UDF,'is coming back to become Leader of the Opposition.
In a Facebook post, he also asked whether Kuhalikutty woul would go to the United Nations if IUML fails to win the Assembly polls.
The decision also came days after Kerala Chief Minister and senior CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan seized on the Congress poll debacle in the recent civic polls, saying the Muslim League was making decisions for it.` In a Facebook post, he had said the 'deplorable state of affairs' of the Congress-led UDF was due to the 'shamelessness of the Congress' to do anything for a few votes.
'It is a strange experience in politics for one political party to dictate who should lead another party. Such extraordinary and anti-democratic things are happening in the UDF.
It seemed like the League would take over the leadership of the UDF after results of the local body elections came out.
Has the League become a centre for commenting on the internal affairs of the Congress and deciding who should lead the Congress?' Vijayan had asked. PTI COR TGB APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR