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|October 7, 1999||
UDF alleges Left foul play in Kannur, Kasargod
D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram
The outcome of the election in the Kannur and Kasargod seats has become a bone of contention for the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front and the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala.
While the Congress and its allies described the CPI-M's victory in the two seats as the result of massive rigging and booth capturing by the Marxists, the latter sees it as the result of a clear minority swing in favour of the ruling LDF coalition.
The election in the two constituencies was marked by unprecedented violence. The violence, which started before the poll, continues. The Congress candidates in the two constituencies had demanded a repoll in 188 booths. But the Election Commission ordered a repoll in only six booths.
The battle in Kannur was prestigious for the CPI-M as it snatched the seat from the Nationalist Congress Party, saying the NCP stood no chance to wrest the seat from Mullappally Ramachandran, who has been winning the seat continuously from 1977.
Congress Working Committee member A K Antony said he believed the CPI-M and its allies had manipulated the result in the two north Kerala constituencies with the assistance of massive rigging and booth capturing. Antony said he had visited the two constituencies and saw the magnitude of the violence unleashed by the CPI-M.
"The situation in Kannur and Kasargod was worse than what prevailed under military rule," he said, adding that the CPI-M was trying to curb the right of the other parties to carry out their political activities.
Antony said the LDF government's refusal to concede the Opposition demand for a judicial inquiry into the alleged malpractices revealed that the party had indulged in irregularities. "If the CPI-M is sure it had not done anything wrong, whey should it fear an inquiry? Let it take action against the Congress if our workers have indulged in malpractices. We want the truth," the former chief minister said.
The LDF had said that it was for the Election Commission to inquire into the poll-related irregularities, but Antony said the power to inquire into election-related violence vested with the state government. "They are trying to run away from the inquiry by shifting the responsibility to the Election Commission. What prevents the government from ordering an inquiry is beyond comprehension since the LDF government holds the distinction of ordering judicial and vigilance inquiries at a drop of a hat," he said.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by senior Congress leader K Karunakaran during a press conference at Thrissur today. He alleged that the election in Kannur and Kasargod were manipulated by the CPI-M. The senior Congress leader maintained that the poll outcome was a verdict against the 40-month-old LDF government. "The substantial drop in the LDF vote share in the election is a reflection of the growing disenchantment of the people over the government," Karunakaran added.
Chief Minister E K Nayanar sees his party's victory in Kannur was significant for the LDF since the Congress treated it as its impregnable fortress for some time now. He said the CPI-M victory in Kannur and Kasargod was a fitting reply to the propaganda against the government over the violence in the district and termed it as a verdict against the violence unleashed by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The chief minister said the Congress and its allies had nothing to cheer about the outcome since it could not improve its tally despite getting the support of parties like the Indian National League and the People's Democratic Party. "This is a clear sign of the shifting loyalties of minorities in favour of the Left forces," he said.
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