//Muslims, backward Hindus to decide Kerala poll outcome

Muslims, backward Hindus to decide Kerala poll outcome

Web posted at: 4/9/2006 1:52:54 Source ::: The Peninsula/ by John Mary

Thiruvananthapuram: Muslims and the backward Ezhava community, forming nearly half the Kerala population, hold the key to the April-May Assembly elections.

There’s a possibility that the response of the forward caste Nair community and the Christians, together making up nearly 32 per cent of the population, will be predicated on the behaviour of larger communities.

Opposition Leader VS Achuthanandan, who has roused the Ezhava community passion, runs the risk of a forward caste backlash. This can lead to a combined offensive by Nairs and Christians.

Meanwhile, the Marxist-led Left Democratic Front has put in place a two-pronged strategy. In the southern districts, it winks at the popular notion that Achuthanadan is the CM candidate while in the north it projects LDF Convener Paloli Mohammed Kutty as the man for the top post, mainly to cut into the vote bank of the Indian Union Muslim League.

The CPM hopes to cash in on the Muslim vote that has of late started swinging towards the Left.

Some 42 pe rcent supported the LDF in the 2004 Parliament elections while 79 per cent of Christians, who constitute 19 per cent of the population, were for the UDF, according to the Centre for Electoral Studies.

Hindus constitute 56.2 per cent of the population and majority of them are LDF supporters. But 80 per cent of Keralites have strong loyalties, irrespective of caste or religion, and the rest makes or breaks their chances.

The Muslim vote in southern districts is likely to be swayed by the People’s Democratic Party of jailed cleric Abdul Nasser Madhany and the ultra National Development Front, which, of late, has increased its presence in these areas.

The UDF that evolved a job quota package on the basis of Narendran Commission report has been able to win over the NDF, which is most popular after IUML among the Muslim communal outfits.

The IUML, which enjoys the support of the dominant Sunni and Mujahid factions, has eight percent vote share in Kerala. It ranks fourth after the CPM, the Congress and the Communist Party of India in the number of legislators and vote share in Kerala.

Of the four pro-LDF outfits, three have been consistently pro-LDF. Jama’at-e-Islami stand has been always been against its perpetual political rival, the IUML.

Web posted at: 4/9/2006 1:52:54