As expected, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has decided to field its national general secretary P. K. Kunhalikutty from Malappuram and its national organising secretary E. T Mohammed Basheer from Ponnani Lok Sabha constituencies on Saturday. Both are sitting MPs.
The IUML State president Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal announced their candidature in Kozhikode. Navas Gani will be the party nominee from Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu.
For the last several decades , the IUML Kerala unit has been contesting the Malappuram, which was Manjeri before delimitation, and Ponnani seats in Malappuram district. But this time the party demanded a third seat as several Muslim groups, especially the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyath ul-Ulama, a Sunni scholars’ forum backed by the IUML. However, the Congress- led United Democratic Front did not concede to the demand.
Mr. Kunhalikutty entered national politics after winning the bypoll from the Malappuram constituency in April 2017. He had defeated M.B. Faisal of the CPI(M) by a majority of over 1.7 lakh votes. The poll was necessitated following the demise of senior party leader E. Ahamed, a former Union Minister.
Mr. Basheer won the Ponnani seat by a margin of 25, 410 votes in 2014. He had also won the seat in 2009. Incidentally, in 2004, Ponnani was the lone seat that the UDF won while its candidates had lost in all the other 19 seats in the State.