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Stage set face-off between anti-, pro-Kunhalikutty groups in IUML

Party leadership gears up to hold its crucial working committee meeting in September

After playing hide and seek for the last three months, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leadership is finally gearing up to hold its crucial working committee meeting in mid-September.

Now, the stage appears to be set for an eager face-off between pro- and anti-P.K. Kunhalikutty groups after a long time. Until now, the 100-member working committee, which is the highest decision making body of the party, has not met to evaluate the outcome of the Assembly elections after it lost five winnable seats.

How Mr. Kunhalikutty manages the support of party president Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, who is still recovering from a critical illness, and his brother and Malappuram district president Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal will be a determining factor in warding off criticisms against him.

This apart, Mr. Kunhalikutty has defended his reputation from detractors after the CPI(M)-backed MLA and former Minister K.T. Jaleel gave a statement against him before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged money laundering case involving the the party owned Muslim Printing and Publishing Company that publishes the Chandrika daily.

Party sources said a 10-member sub-committee comprising State leaders and legislators had neither scheduled the date nor fixed an agenda of the meeting to be held in Kozhikode. However, the meeting is unlikely to deliberate contentious issues such as the case against Muslim Students Federation (MSF) leaders for making sexually explicit remarks against leaders of Haritha, women’s wing of the students’ organisation of the IUML.

Now, the dust seems to have settled at least for the time being when Syed Mueen Ali Shihab Thangal, son of Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, accused Mr. Kunhalikutty of political hegemony and financial mismanagement in the party mouthpiece.

Regardless of its internal problems, what really perturbs the IUML leadership is the dilution of its support base among the youth in party strongholds in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur districts and the resurgent emergence of political players—Indian National League, Social Democratic Party of India, and the Welfare Party of India—chasing the Muslim vote.

Also, sources said the leadership was looking at the strategies adopted by the CPI(M) in taking a conscious and intentional effort to win the Muslim community through defectors of the IUML. Despite a concerted move by the IUML to paint the CPI(M) as an anti-Muslim outfit in the run-up to the Assembly polls, the Left parties continued to make inroads into the Malabar region and secured a historic second term.

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