News analysis | IUML facing unprecedented crisis in Kerala

News analysis | IUML facing unprecedented crisis in Kerala, the vie

Hyderali Thangal’s son has criticised national general secretary Kunhalikutty over financial mess in party organ

Perhaps for the first time in its history, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is facing an unprecedented political crisis following the allegations raised by the son of party State president Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal against its national general secretary and MLA P.K. Kunhalikutty for the alleged financial mess in Chandrika, the party organ.

The criticism by Syed Mueen Ali Shihab Thangal, who is also Muslim Youth League (MYL) national vice-president, against the powerful and Machiavellian Mr. Kunhalikutty has put the IUML leadership in a spot and it has been unable to take any disciplinary action. Had it been made by any other leader outside the Thangal family, the party leadership without batting an eyelid would have swung into action by now.

The statement of acting party State general secretary P.M.A. Salam that action would be taken against Mr. Thangal is easier said than done for various reasons. Such an action would precipitate a political crisis in the party at a time when Mr. Thangal is undergoing treatment for a serious illness at a private hospital in Kozhikode, sources said.

Through all the years, Mr. Kunhalikutty, who has been the running the show at the IUML, has also been securing the unfaltering support from the Thangal family. Nevertheless, what has triggered Mr. Thangal to publicly come out against Mr. Kunhalikutty was that his father was dragged into the unnecessary controversies involving the Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate probe into the money laundering case. His is not a lone voice but one that empowers the voiceless among the disgruntled leaders, party insiders say.

However, trouble has been brewing in the party for quite some time with the arbitrary decision taken by Mr. Kunhalikutty, either politically or financially, concerning the affairs of the Muslim Printing and Publishing Company (MPPC) that brings out the Chandrika. The pangs of being out of power at the Centre and the State twice consecutively were getting harder to ignore both by the leadership and the cadre.

As State president of the party, Mr. Thangal is the chairman and managing director of the MPPC. But ever since he was hospitalised, Mr. Mueen Thangal, has been entrusted with this charge. That finance director P.M. Abdul Sameer is calling the shots with the approval of Mr. Kunhalikutty has also ruffled his feathers, sources said.

However, a matter of utmost importance is how Mr. Kunhalikutty would tackle the controversy engulfing him. Will he be able to the deal with the situation as he had deftly dealt with Sayyid Munavvrali Shihab Thangal, son of the late Panakkad Syed Mohammedali Shihab, when he criticised the party leadership over the selection of P.V. Abdul Wahab as Rajya Sabha candidate in 2015? Now Mr. Thangal is State president of the MYL.

Sources said that Mr. Kunhalikutty, who is said to have the backing of the party cadre, would heavily depend on Malappuram district president Panakkad Syed Sadiqali Shihab Thangal, brother of Mr. Hyderali Thangal, who many perceive as traditional and the future State president of the IUML.

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