Hakeem losing ground in Kandy due to new CWC candidate

Feb 19 (IL) Faizer Musthapha, Vice President of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), which has extended support to the United National Party, will contest the forthcoming election from Kandy posing a threat to the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and its leader Rauff Hakeem, who is also likely to contest under the UNP Kandy ticket.

Political analysts point out that Mr. Musthapha's entry could have a negative impact on Mr. Hakeem, who's home base is Kandy. The votes may divide between the Kandy candidates.

Ironically, Faizer Musthapha is also the son of SLMC advisor and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Faiz Musthapha, and he (Faizer) handled part of Rauff Hakeem's election campaign during the 2001 general election.

However Mr. Musthapha said that his decision to contest the election under the CWC-UNP ticket from the Kandy district has brought in a lot of opposition from several groups. "There have been numerous requests from groups requesting me to step down from contesting the election as there are already two Muslims from the same party and with me it would be three," he said.

When queried from him whether he posed a threat to the SLMC leader at the election, Mr. Musthapha said he did not know whether he posed a threat or otherwise, but added that he has worked for all three communities equally in the Kandy district. "I have around 2,000 to 3,000 active supporters in Kandy working towards my victory," he said.

He also pointed out that when everyone seems to have forgotten about the families of the Udathalawinna massacre victims, it was the CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman who took the initiative to obtain lands for the families of the victims. "When funds to build the houses were needed, I with the help of my leader sought assistance from everyone to build the houses," he said. His reason to join the CWC soon after the 2001 elections was attributed to "easier to work for the people with the CWC," he said.