IUML, Congress, UCC
A Muslim League rally during the campaigning of Rahul Gandhi in Kerala. File photo

Kerala: Ally Congress not invited, IUML to skip Left seminar on UCC

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The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has decided not to participate in the national seminar on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) organised by the CPI(M) in Kozhikode on July 15. The decision to opt out was taken after lengthy deliberations in the leadership meeting held on Sunday (July 9) in Malappuram.

“The UCC is an issue that affects many communities and should not be passed in Parliament. All parties opposing the proposed Bill should be united. But here, as the CPI(M) has not invited the Congress, which is our ally in the UDF, it would not be appropriate for the party to accept the invitation,” said IUML president Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal.

However, the IUML is not opposed to other Muslim organisations, including Samasta Kerala Jam Iyyathul Ulama, participating in the seminar, he clarified. “In this political context, with the CPI(M) not extending invitations to other United Democratic Front (UDF) constituents, including the Congress, we cannot accept it. We believe that the opposition to the UCC cannot go forward without the Congress. If we participate in the seminar organised by the CPI(M), it may lead to dire political consequences for the UDF,” Thangal said.

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Decision not unanimous 

According to sources, the IUML leadership was vertically split over the decision on whether to accept the CPI(M) invitation or not. A prominent faction led by party general secretary PK Kunhalikkutty was reportedly in favour of accepting the invitation, but the other faction led by MP ET Mohamed Bashir and MLA M K Muneer opposed it.

Kunhalikkutty, the party bigwig, is said to have closer ties with the CPI(M) top leadership and never misses an opportunity to align with the Left parties. On the other hand, the faction led by MK Muneer has stronger ties with the Congress and is constantly anti-Communist in its political stance.

The Samasta, the largest organisation of Sunni Muslims in the state, with predominantly IUML workers and leaders in its ranks, has already decided to accept the CPI(M) invitation and participate in the seminar. Its leader Mustafa Mundupara was even named as the vice-chair of the organising committee of the seminar. At first, he had told the media that his name was used without his consent, but the organisation later decided to participate in the seminar.

The Samasta leadership has made it clear that they would welcome any move against the UCC cutting across political lines. They have expressed their displeasure at the Congress’ soft stance on the issue.

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Relief for Congress

The Congress was caught in a tight spot with the Samasta criticising its political stance and had expressed its displeasure over the CPI(M) accusing their idealogue EMS Namboothiripad for batting for the UCC back in 1985. The IUML decision, which comes amidst the war of words between the Congress and the CPI(M), will provide a big relief for the grand old party. Even though the IUML had reiterated its support to the Congress, the KPCC was wary about the decision of their junior partner in the UDF.

According to sources, the KPCC leadership was in constant touch with the IUML leadership, urging them not to participate in the seminar to avoid a major embarrassment to the front. The UDF leadership meeting is scheduled to discuss the matter on Monday (July 10). It is expected to come up with a string of programmes against the UCC in the coming days across the state.

CPI(M) unfazed

However, the CPI(M) is unfazed by the IUML’s refusal to participate in the seminar. “The Muslim League not accepting the invitation to the seminar should not be considered as a setback to us,” said MV Govindan, state secretary of the CPI(M).

“The seminar is only a beginning of the resistance against the UCC and there would definitely be a follow-up action. The IUML is a UDF constituent and the Congress’ stance might have impacted their decision. Anyhow, they were one of the many invitees to the seminar. Many organisations representing minority and Dalit communities have been invited to it and if the League is not coming, fine,” added Govindan.

The CPI(M) was aiming to take an early-bird advantage by organising a national seminar on the UCC and inviting Muslim organisations and IUML to it. It had employed the same tactic during the anti-CAA protests and had gained political mileage out of it.

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Congress’s unclear stand

“The Congress does not have a unified stance on the UCC at the national level. That’s why the CPI(M) did not invite them,” KV Abdulkhader, CPI(M) leader from Thrissur said. Abdulkhader has been a three-time MLA and a prominent Muslim face of the party in the state.

“Some Congress leaders of northern Indian states are openly endorsing the UCC. The Congress has the obligation to take secular stance on national issues, but unfortunately, they are no doing it. We have seen them diluting the standpoints of Jawaharlal Nehru and even Indira Gandhi in the Babri Masjid issue,” he told The Federal.

“But when the IUML cites non-inclusion of Congress as an excuse for not participating in the seminar, it would not go down well with their supporters,” he told The Federal. “The IUML leadership is compelled to justify it only because they are part of the coalition. In this matter, the stand taken by Samasta Kerala Jam Iyyathul Ulama will be considered as a pointer,” the CPI(M) leader added.

Academy award-winning author KP Ramanunni is the chairman of the organising committee of the Kozhikode seminar. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechuri is one of the speakers. The organising committee consists of representatives of various Sunni and Mujahid factions apart from the left leaders. Anti-UCC organisations and parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI are left out for the left parties dub them as communal or fundamentalist organisations.

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