Kerala: IUML strongman Kunhalikutty returns to centre stage



Thiruvanathapuram: For 60-year-old P K Kunhalikutty who was embroiled in an infamous sex scandal, his induction in the UDF ministry in Kerala marks a return to the centre stage as only a few months back there was a question mark over his political survival.

Despite the LDF harping on the 'Ice cream parlour sex scandal' in the runup to the Assembly polls, Kunhalikutty led the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a partner in the Congress-led UDF, to a spectacular victory bagging 20 of the 24 seats it contested.

The IUML leader himself won by a margin of over 30,000 votes from Vengara in the Muslim heartland of Malappuram. He is tipped to get the Industries portfolio, which he held in 1991-96 and 2001-05 ministries.

Kunhalikutty, who entered politics through IUML's student wing Muslim Students Federation (MSF), was elected to the Kerala Assembly in 1982, 1987, 1991 and 2001.

He quit as Industries Minister from the Congress-led UDF government in 2005 after coming under a cloud of allegations in connection with the sex scandal.

Though Kunhalikutty never figured as an accused in the case, opposition parties had alleged that he was involved in it.

The scam returned to haunt him again after one of his relative confessed his role in bribing girls to keep Kunhalikutty's name out of their testimony in the case.

Seizing on it, former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan ordered a fresh investigation in the case.

The resurfacing of the scandal few months before the Assembly polls was used as a weapon against the IUML leader by LDF during electioneering, but Kunhalikutty came out as the winner in the elections.

PTI