The proposed off-campus centre of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Kerala has now become a bone of contention between the CPI(M) and the Muslim League in its mutual competition to prove affinity to Muslim community.
The proposal to have the centre at the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district was clearly a strategic move by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in its various successful forays to spread its clout among the state's 80 lakh Muslims who form 24.7 per cent of the population. Initially the move received public support from Muslim League,
The proposal to have an off-campus centre in Kerala was cleared easily by the AMU thanks to its present vice chancellor and also registrar who happen to be Malayalis.
But a strategic slip from the CPI(M) has now come to League's aid to make good for its lost ground. The government initially had said the centre would be set up in the land it earlier acquired for an industrial township near Panakkad in Malappuram which happens to be the village of Panakkad Shihab Thangal, Muslim League's state president. Little did the CPI(M) then realise that the AMU centre in Panakkad would let a major advantage for the League as it was its head quarters.
Wisdom dawned on the CPI(M) belatedly. It hurriedly began moves to shelve Panakkad. The government came out with a new statement that the centre would not be in Panakkad as the land was earmarked for a government-backed management institute. The CPI(M) also started moves to have the campus in Perinthalmanna in the same Malappuram district. The CPI(M) also started campaign that management institute at Panakkad and AMU at Perinthalmanna would mean two premier educational institutes for the Malappuram district.
This came as a god send for the League which was bated breath watching the Left's firm and fast moves. The decision not to set up the campus at Panakkad has triggered League into action. Now it has launched a campaign against CPI(M)'s moves to "deny the AMU centre for Malappuram". The suggested new location of Perinthalmanna, which despite being in Malappuram district, is not as Muslim-dominated as Malappuram Assembly constituency. So this too is shown as an "anti-Muslim" move.
With Lok Sabha elections round the corner and the League facing an assault from the CPI(M) on its bastions, cannot be happier. For the AMU issue is a sure winner for them. If the campus is finally set up at Panakkad, League will certainly take more credit than CPI(M) despite its claim as the project's progenitor. And if it is not set up there, League would have a dream weapon to target the Left and charge that it denied AMU to Kerala's Muslim heartland.