Kerala state elections- Left Front made history as it retained power

 Comrade Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did the magic in kerala


Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by Comrade Chief Minister Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, looks set for a comeback in Kerala as counting to the 140-seat assembly is underway. LDF is leading on 95 seats in the 140 seat assembly. Congress led UDF is leading on three 25 seats while BJP is leading on just one seat.

LDF has made history with this thumping victory. LDF marches towards breaking four-decade-old political pattern in state by retaining power. Kerala is dominated by two fronts. CPI-M led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) for decades.  

In last forty years, no ruling front in Kerala succeeded to retain power. Both United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF) were elected alternately after every five years. The last time when there was a departure from this pattern was four decades ago.

Similar to Tamil Nadu before 2016, Kerala too had the trend to vote for a change of governments in the state every five years. The trends so far suggest that Vijayan is on the way to retain power.

It seems that he not only break the jinx, but going to retain power for another term with even bigger majority. Despite BJP’s aggressive campaigning in the state, initial trends suggest it is not likely to with more than three to five seats.

But, this time, as it appears, the LDF is clearly close to a record win, it is returning to power rewriting the history of four decades with a stellar performance bettering even its 2016 performance.

It looks like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is heading for a big setback in Kerala despite strong campaigning on the Sabarimala issue. Metro Man E Sreedharan, who was considered to be a sure-winning candidate for BJP is set to lose in Palakkad.

Similarly, actor Suresh Gopi has lost in Thrissur after a tough fight. Even the Nemom constituency looks doubtful. BJP’s vote share is also likely to fall drastically. BJP will have to do a lot of introspection post this election about the reasons that led to this failure.

The Congress party was pinning its hopes on anti-incumbency to work in its favour. But, as it turns out, it is a pro-incumbency factor that is played out ultimately. Pinarayi Vijayan Government’s performance during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2018 floods won praises from across the country.

The government’s systematic approach helped the state avert chaos during the pandemic, unlike many other states. The distribution of free food kit distribution started by the government in March 2020 became popular on the ground and appealed to the low-income groups. All these factors worked in favour of the LDF Government.

This shows people of Kerala have appreciated the performance of the Pinarayi Vijayan government, the way it tackled floods, COVID-19, and pro-people development.

The single biggest takeaway from Kerala’s assembly election trends so far is the strong re-emergence of Pinarayi-Vijayan as an indomitable political figure in the state.

 A historic win, as the trends suggest, could mean the usual political pattern could change forever - the role of young voters and neutral voters desperate for good governance could prove decisive from now on.

The fact is that that nothing, including a raft of political allegations raised by the Congress-led UDF or the strong attack mounted by the BJP-led NDA on Sabarimala issue could halt the Vijayan juggernaut.

This signals a radical change in the state’s political scene. There is a fundamental change in the voter behaviour of the state.

Among those, the most prominent one is the popularity of Vijayan himself as a no-nonsense administrator. Vijayan has presented himself as a strong leader both within his party and outside. As the CM, Vijayan made his voice heard at the national level and has managed to retain his clean political image. There were no challengers for him both within the party and outside.

Second, is the other is the weak opposition led by the Congress-party which has been battling with in-fighting and a clutch of unhappy allies. The departure of the Jose K Mani-led Kerala Congress faction to the left camp further weakened the Congress party’s position in Central Kerala, a key geography which is decisive factor for any elections in the state.

Congress party was seen as a divided house filled with leaders hungry for power. There was no unity as a party. For the neutral voter, it was a political outfit of numerous factions working for self-interest.

Third, the pro-incumbency factor played out to favour Vijayan government. The Vijayan-government’s response during the first wave of the Covid-pandemic won praises from across the country. The preparedness of the state under health minister K Shailaja helped to keep the Covid spread under control and arranges treatment for the infected.

There was a no chaos at any point compared with many other states. Kerala, under Vijayan, relatively did very well in the fight against Covid. This factor proved critical in the state elections. Voters know that the pandemic isn’t over and the governance continuity is even more important.

Despite many headwinds, Vijayan led the party to power which would also mean brand Vijayan getting a major boost in the CPM cadres at national level. This five-year term wasn’t a smooth affair for Vijayan.

There was a major flood, a raft of corruption allegations and a deadly pandemic. In spite of all this, if the senior CPM leader and former state secretary of the party gifts a victory to his party, that will elevate his image in the party nationally.

During its tenure, the LDF government saw many crises hit Kerala — the cyclone Ockhi in 2017, the Nipah outbreak in 2018, the floods that ravaged several districts in 2018 and 2019, and finally the 2020 Covid pandemic.

 In all of this, Vijayan emerged as a hands-on, proactive and transparent leader, helped by his efficient team that included Health Minister K.K. Shailaja. The LDF kept the people of Kerala in loop with the developments and the government’s planning for the crisis at hand.

The rescue and rehabilitation processes undertaken during the floods, the delivery of free food packets and flood kits, and the constant media briefings by the chief minister himself — it was a mix of delivery and communication, and the election result shows the LDF benefitted from both.

Then, during the first nationwide lockdown announced by the Narendra Modi government in March 2020, when migrant labourers across India struggled to cope and walked hundreds of kilometers to reach home — Kerala stood out with its welfare programmes and service delivery.

It promised an advance payment of welfare pensions, free food kits to PDS card holders, and reached out to the group by referring to them as ‘guests’, not migrants.

                                                        Khalid Bhatti 

1 comment:

  1. It is the delivery of sitting left in the fields of COVID 19,SOCIal welfare aspects of working class.


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