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Madani dominates poll debate in Kerala

Source: PTI
March 24, 2009 20:05 IST
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In Kerala's bipolar polity, Abdul Nasser Madani's Peoples Democratic Party is not part of either of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front or United Democratic Front spearheaded by the Congress. But, in an irony of sorts, Madani appears to have "hijacked" the initial round of Lok Sabha poll debate.

Ever since the CPM forged a link with the PDP through its independent at Ponnani in the Muslim heartland of Malappuram, the "right and wrong" of this new found alliance has become a hotly discussed topic in state politics, relegating other national and state-level issues, at least for the opening phase of the campaigning.

According to political observers, the Lok Sabha polls have come as a shot in the arm for Madani, who has been keeping a low profile after his acquittal in the Coimbatore blasts case two years back.

While UDF saw the CPM-PDP alliance as an "opportunistic" one which exposed the party's "moral highground", theCommunist party has defended the tie-up holding that there is no need to treat Madani as a political untouchable so long as he had taken a stand against communalism and extremism. However, the tie-up has created some strain in the LDF with left partners CPI and Revolutionary Socialist Party ill-disposed towards the alliance.

Confirming the doubts that PDP's support was limited to CPM alone, the leaders of the party have kept off campaigning for CPI candidates in protest against their "negative" attitude towards them.

Madani, who was once described as an "extremist Muslim fundamentalist" by the Left, has started campaigning openly
for CPM candidates. The Communist party leaders say he had changed his stance after years of imprisonment in connection with the Coimbatore blasts case.
However, CPI leader A B Bardhan had said the PDP was a communal party. Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan had also said allegations against Madani on links with extremist groups would be examined.
The Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League have termed the CPM-PDP alliance as a "dangerous trend". Congress leader Oommen Chandy said PDP was a party which "spread communal hatred". Chandy said he had visited Madani in Coimbatore jail only on personal considerations as he was undergoing imprisonment for years without trial.
Meanwhile, CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan defended Madani, saying he was "secular" after years of imprisonment.
Hussein Randathani, the LDF independent from Ponnani Lok Sabha seat, is reportedly a PDP nominee. Kerala goes to the polls on April 16.

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