Ker­ala in a League of Its Own

The grow­ing clout of the Mus­lim League in the UDF leads to mo­bil­i­sa­tion of Hindu and Chris­tian groups

India Today - - INSIDE - By M. G. Rad­hakr­ish­nan

The grow­ing clout of the Mus­lim League in the UDF gov­ern­ment leads to mo­bil­i­sa­tion of Hindu and Chris­tian groups.

Panakkad is an ob­scure vil­lage deep in the bow­els of Malap­pu­ram, Ker­ala’s only Mus­lim- ma­jor­ity dis­trict. In Septem­ber, the state gov­ern­ment will show­case 22 pro­posed projects here, to­talling an in­vest­ment of Rs 2,000 crore, at a global in­vestors’ meet in Kochi. With rea­son. Panakkad is the home turf of the Ko­dap­panakkal fam­ily of Sayyid Shi­hab Thangals, the most prom­i­nent spir­i­tual lead­ers of Ker­ala’s Mus­lims since the 1980s. Tra­di­tion­ally, the el­dest Than­gal be­comes pres­i­dent of the Mus­lim League, which has propped up the United Demo­cratic Front ( UDF) since it came to power in May 2011 in the state with a slen­der six- seat ma­jor­ity.

The League is UDF’S sec­ond largest con­stituent with 20 seats, and ex­er­cises al­most to­tal con­trol over Ker­ala’s Mus­lims, the state’s sec­ond largest community with 25 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. Em­pow­ered by the com- mu­nity’s eco­nomic and de­mo­graphic growth, the League has grown steadily in strength. Mus­lims are the largest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of for­eign re­mit­tances, that to­talled Rs 50,000 crore in 2011 ac­cord­ing to a study by Thiruvananthapuram- based Cen­tre for De­vel­op­ment Stud­ies, sent by its two- mil­lion­strong di­as­pora in the Gulf. Not just that. Ac­cord­ing to the 2001 Cen­sus, while Hindu and Chris­tian pop­u­la­tions showed a de­cline, by 1.48 per cent and 0.32 per cent re­spec­tively, the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion went up by 1.70 per cent.

Con­se­quently, the League has wrested sev­eral priv­i­leges from the present gov­ern­ment: Five Cab­i­net berths, free land in the Cali­cut Univer­sity cam­pus, spe­cial priv­i­leges for Mus­lim man­age­ment schools, and Mus­lims re­cruited to raise aware­ness about lit­tle­known mi­nor­ity schol­ar­ships in the community. Chief Min­is­ter Oom­men Chandy has faced much flak from all around— in­clud­ing his own party— for suc­cumb­ing to the League’s pres­sures. In May, Aryadan Muhammed, the

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