Arrest of Kunju adds to Muslim League woes

Party in a tight spot with two of its MLAs under arrest and another under investigation during poll time

KOZHIKODE: The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) may cry foul at the arrest of their leader and former Public Works Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju over the Palarivattom flyover scam being probed by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB). In the run-up to the local body elections in the State, however, the IUML, as also the UDF, has much to worry about the discomfiture over the fact that two of its three MLAs facing probes into serious charges, including corruption and cheating, are now under arrest.

The timing of the arrest of Mr. Kunju, who represents the Kalamassery constituency in Ernakulam, may lend credence to the UDF’s allegation that it was an act of vendetta by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to eclipse its own embarrassment over the fallout of the ongoing investigations by Central agencies into the diplomatic channel gold smuggling and LIFE Mission scams.

Kamaruddin’s case

But the latest arrest adds to the woes of the IUML as it comes close on the heels of the arrest of party leader and Manjeswaram MLA M.C. Kamaruddin by the Crime Branch in connection with a Fashion Gold jewellery investment scam and the questioning of party’s young leader and Azhikode MLA K.M. Shaji in a bribery case for sanctioning Plus Two courses for an aided school at Azhikode in Kannur district. Mr. Shaji is also facing a probe into the allegation that he amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Outwardly, the IUML and UDF leadership puts on a brave front and dubs the cases against three as a ploy by the LDF government to turn the tables on the Opposition to divert public attention from the adverse political impact of the investigations in the case of gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage and its domino effect. But IUML and UDF circles privately admit that the they are facing a major challenge now that the ruling and Opposition parties are girding up their loins for what is set to be a tempestuous election campaign.

With two of its MLAs under arrest and another under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and the VACB, the IUML, which has a strong support base in Malabar, will find itself in a tight spot on the campaign front.

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