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IUML to broad-base its presence

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) will make a bid to contest in at least 10 seats across several States in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and broad-base its presence outside Kerala.

The national committee of the party will meet here on April 12 to discuss the strategies to achieve this objective and leverage its role as a mediator to ensure that secular votes are not divided.

IUML national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty, MP, said the discussions would basically focus on the southern States. Apart from Kerala, the party has contested and won from Tamil Nadu. ‘‘We hope to play a role to ensure that secular votes are not divided,’’ he said while talking to media persons.

Mr. Kunhalikutty said the byelection results in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar was an indicator of the big political changes that was going to take place in the country. After Gujarat poll outcome, the writing was very clear in the byelections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The defeat of the BJP in the two prestigious seats of Gorakhpur and Phulpur were indicators to the changes taking place in North India.

Along with this, the recent dinner meeting convened by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi also gave enough hope for a secular platform. ‘‘We did not succeed in giving it a structure. But the majority of the Opposition parties that participated were united in their opinion that secular votes should not be divided to give the BJP any electoral gains,’’ he said.

When asked about the Left parties stand, includng the CPI(M), Mr. Kunhalikutty said the very fact that representatives of the CPI and CPI(M) attended the dinner meeting was a positive sign despite the known reservations some of them had about ties with the Congress.

Parties might have clash of interests, but some strategy would be soon worked out that would delineate national and State political imperatives, he added.

He said his party continued to be steadfast in its views that only the Congress party, with its all-India presence, could give leadership to a secular platform. His party was part of the Unted Progressive Alliance (UPA) and held the view that no secular platform could be forged with the Congress on it.

When asked about the doubts expressed by certain quarters about Congress president Rahul Gandhi capability to lead the secular grouping, Mr. Kunhalikutty said his party was of the firm view that Mr. Gandhi would deliver with all round support. "There is a first time for every one. Lets give him the responsibility. He is capable, sincere, straightforward and a man with good intention," he said.

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