It would be a mistake to assume that the statement of LDF convener EP Jayarajan inviting the Muslim League to join the Left Front and the response of the League leaders, including PK Kunhalikutty, who did not think about it for the time being, was merely a political ploy. On the contrary, they have deliberately let out some of the dust of the long-term plan being prepared by the CPM in Kerala under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan. Until the Congress comes to power at the Center, in other words, as long as the BJP remains in power in Delhi, the CPM-led Left Front will be the acceptable political front for a strong Muslim minority in Kerala. The Muslim community constitutes 28% of the population of Kerala and the Muslim community is a decisive force in almost all the Assembly constituencies in the northern districts of Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Palakkad Malappuram. Moreover, the Indian Union Muslim League has great influence in all these areas. In North Kerala, the UDF itself is literally the Muslim League. If they do not, then the UDF is not there. Therefore, the change of the Muslim League will destroy the UDF system in Kerala. Premachandran’s RSP, PJ Joseph’s Kerala Congress and Mani C Kappan are also on the CPM’s list. If that happens, the result will be a complete liquidation of the UDF. This is exactly what the CPM is aiming for.
The CPM expects a hat-trick in governance. That is because they hope that Modi will continue to rule after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. With that, mistrust between different religious sects in India will increase again. For the CPM, India is now Kerala. Whatever happens in India, they will look at how it will affect Kerala. Therefore, their political strategies are based only on these fourteen districts.
We have to tell a little bit of history when it comes to the Muslim League
The Muslim League has had a strong influence in the Malabar region since the 1930s. After the Khilafat riots of 1921, known as the Malabar riots, there was widespread dissatisfaction among the Malabar Muslims with the Congress. The aim of the Muslim League was to exploit it. The Muslim League is the All India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Abdul Sattar Seth, Jinnah’s League candidate, defeated Mohammed Abdul Rahman Sahib, the KPCC president, in the 1934 elections to the Central Legislative Assembly, who brought the Muslim community in Malabar closer to the national movement. Sattar Seth traveled to Pakistan after independence and served as Portugal’s ambassador.
This means that Malabar politics has been in the hands of the League since the 1930s. But the League had no significant rift with the Communist Party, which had grown up in the 1940s. Perhaps the then Communist Party also supported the Pakistani cause. After independence, the All India Muslim League became the Indian Union Muslim League. But almost all political parties remained untouchable to the League. Especially the Congress. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who came to Kozhikode, described the League as a dead horse.
With his participation in the Second EMS Cabinet in 1967, the Indian Union Muslim League gained great political prestige in Kerala and later became a literal league in Kerala politics. In the meantime, there were two splits in the League, but that did not diminish the League’s influence in the Muslim community.
Although it was the second largest party in the Congress-led UDF, in effect the League controlled the UDF. The League was able to give a new face to minority politics in Kerala. The Kerala Congress and the Muslim League sided with the Congress from the front. It was the Muslim League that pulled the strings to remove K Karunakaran and AK Antony from the leadership of the Congress Assembly party. The UDF was in a position where those who sided with the Muslim League would win the group fights in the Congress. Oommen Chandy clearly won over I category with the help of PK Kunhalikutty and KM Mani.
However, the League was fed up with the UDF as the Congress was exhausted in Kerala and at the Center and as usual the large space for group play was lost in the Congress. This is perhaps the first time in ten years since 1967 that the League has been out of power. The League is based on the wealthy Muslims in the Gulf, and without power they would not look back at any party other than the League. So being part of the power itself is a matter of survival for the league. The major setback for the Congress at the all-India level is that it is unlikely to recover in the near future. The CPM’s strong opposition to the BJP is also creating new justifications for the Muslim League’s leftist affiliation.
The CPM is confident that they can complete a hat-trick in Kerala by adding the league. Although Kanam Rajendran’s CPI is exploding some firecrackers, the CPM leadership knows that it does not go beyond the adage of shrimp jumping to the knee. The CPI (M) knows that their bargaining power will diminish if the Muslim League comes to the fore, but they will stick to it as they have nowhere else to go. Moreover, the CPI does not incur any significant loss with the coming of the League, and in addition the Mannarkkad seat will have to be paid to the League. All the CPI’s most likely seats are in central and southern Kerala. The league has no significant roots there.
The 2024 Lok Sabha elections are crucial for the fronts in Kerala. If the BJP continues to rule at the Center in 2024, then the Congress will be in power in India. With that, the UDF in Kerala will also disappear. The league’s step change to the Left Front will be rapid. After 2024, the BJP will try to adopt and implement the Unified Civil Code. With that, the Congress will disappear in Kerala as well. As the BJP slowly takes the field in that position, the minority parties will line up behind the CPM.
With the demise of a centrist party like the Congress, the democratic space in Kerala will gradually shrink. Transparent democratic spaces are the basis of a healthy social environment in Kerala. Beyond caste, religion and region, the social identity of the Malayalee has been the driving force behind all our movements. When that is not the case, the vacuum will be filled by the BJP, anarchist groups like the Twenty20 and non-ideological parties like the Aam Aadmi Party. At the same time, political outfits of various castes and religions may be formed. In short, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will mark the beginning of major political changes.