Kunhalikutty on a firm footing in IUML citadel
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Last Updated: Saturday, April 02, 2011, 10:50
Vengara (Ker): Will it be a cake walk for Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) state unit general secretary P K Kunhalikutty in the newly-carved Vengara Assembly segment in Kerala's Muslim heartland Malappuram?

If the initial trends are any indication, he is expected to have a smooth sail in the April 13 polls putting behind his upset defeat from adjacent Kuttippuram in 2006.

A central player of Congress-led UDF, personal allegations and controversies have always haunted 59-year-old Kunhalikutty but he has carried forward with grit and unstinted support from his party's leadership and rank and file.

As ways of electoral politics are unpredictable, the League leader was defeated in 2006 by his own disciple K T Jaleel, who had crossed over to the rival LDF camp.

Kunhalikutty's main opponent this time is K P Ismail of the LDF-backed Indian National League (INL), a debutant in electoral battle.

Ismail, who entered politics through the Congress' student wing KSU but joined INL in 1992, has good roots in the area. Undeterred by IUML's mighty presence in the segment, Ismail has mounted a fierce campaign with the help of the CPI-M cadre.

Having completed his first round of canvassing, Ismail said he would upset UDF's apple cart as voters would not be lured by the "honey coated" promises of IUML leaders. The resurfacing of the "ice cream parlour" sex case, in which Kunhalikutty's name was often dragged, is being used as a weapon against him by the LDF in the campaign.

The case relates to allegations in late 1990s that an ice cream parlour in Kozhikode was used as a cover to lure young women into sex rackets following which Kunhalikutty quit as Industries Minister in the 2004 UDF Government.

Though Kunhalikutty has never been made an accused in the case, the scam was back in limelight in recent months with a relative of him claiming that he had helped the League leader to wriggle out of the legal tangles.

The development had cast doubts about Kunhalikutty contesting the polls. But the unstinted support from the party leadership and rank and file helped him to overcome the crisis.


First Published: Saturday, April 02, 2011, 10:50

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