Row erupts in Kerala over SDPI's support to UDF candidate in Manjeswaram where BJP chief is contesting

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Manjeswaram (Ker), Apr 3 (PTI) A controversy has erupted in Kerala over the decision of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), a political offshoot of Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), to support the Congress-led UDF in Manjeswaram Assembly seat where BJP leader K Surendran is considered to be a top contender in the April 6 polls.

Attacking the Congress, the BJP has asked the opposition party to reveal its stand on the issue.

The saffron party threatened that the decision of the Congress to accept the support of the SDPI would have its echo in the Assembly polls in Assam.

Addressing a poll meeting here seeking votes for Surendran in the segment bordering Karnataka, Union Minister Smriti Irani said the national leadership of the Congress will have to explain to the people of poll bound Assam on how it can take the support of an outfit which 'waged a battle against the people of Northeast' in the Kerala election.

The Congress and the UDF have not reacted to the development which unfolded after the SDPI said today it would support the candidate fielded by the UDF to ensure the defeat of BJP state president Surendran in the April 6 polls.

Hitting out at the Congress, Irani said in 2012 the state government had informed the Kerala high court that 'they (PFI) are the enemies of the state'.

She wondered how the Congress party could accept the support of such outfits in elections.

'The Congress has to explain how a party which has launched a battle against the people of Assam and Northeast has become its friend,' Irani said, apparently referring to the alleged role of the PFI in the violence that erupted in Assam during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in late 2019.

SDPI state president Abdul Majeed Faizy said the party decided to support UDF candidate AKM Ashraf of Muslim League to ensure the defeat of the BJP in the elections.

Talking to PTI, he said a survey carried out by the SDPI in the constituency had revealed that extending support to the UDF candidate will ensure the defeat of Surendran in the constituency.

'We have a very strong presence in Manjeswaram.Our party is active in 83 wards in the constituency.We contested only in 26 wards in Manjeswaram in the civic polls held last December and secured over 7800 votes from 26 wards,' he said.

Faizy said despite having a growth in the area, the SDPI did not field its candidate in the Assembly elections to make sure that the BJP is defeated.

When contacted, UDF Kasargod district convener and IUML leader C T Ahamed Ali said he was not aware of the development.

Manjeswaram is one of the few constituencies in the state where a tight fight between the UDF and BJP is being witnessed.

Congress ally IUML has fielded AKM Ashraf, who hails from the constituency, as the UDF candidate, while CPI(M) leader V V Rameshan is the LDF candidate.PTI TGB BN BN