Thiruvananthapuram, May 25, 2019 : The Lok Sabha results in Kerala have stunned even the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) which bagged a whopping 19 of 20 seats. The UDF was expecting around 15-16 seats, but ended up with 19. The Communist Party managed to scrape through only in Alappuzha and the BJP once again missed out a golden chance and got out for a duck, Yahoo reported.
This is the highest tally for the Congress and its allies in Kerala in this century. Only once in Kerala’s political history has the Congress and its allies done better– in the post-Emergency elections in 1977 when it bagged what it called 20-20.
The CPM has not only lost face in the state, but to make matters worse, the UDF won by huge margins. Never in Kerala’s political history has the Left candidates lost with such large margins. Even the CPM bastions of Kasargode, Attingal, Palakkad and Alathur, the party just could not withstand the UDF onslaught. The party had boasted that even the strongest political wave cannot shake these bastions which it held for over three decades. In these strongholds too the CPM just bled to defeat.
The reason for the CPM annihilation is not hard to find. There are four factors that worked against the party and the Left Democratic Front: The huge consolidation of minority votes in favour of the UDF especially after Rahul Gandhi opted to be a candidate from Wayanad; two, the Sabarimala backlash by the Hindu “believers”; three, the CPM’s blood soaked politics and fourth, the government did nothing substantial for the victims of the flood that ravaged the State last August.
But what really helped the UDF was the massive consolidation of Muslim and Christian votes. These communities constitute about 44-45 per cent of the state’s population and have been traditionally supporting the UDF. In the last Assembly elections, a section of the minority votes had moved to the LDF. But with the BJP’s threat to minorities at the national level, these communities once again scrambled back to the Congress fold as it saw the party as a strong anti-BJP force.
And when Rahul Gandhi decided to contest from Wayanad, the minorities had no doubt. That explains why the Left stronghold of Kasargode, Palakkad and Alathur in the north Kerala crumbled.
The minority consolidation was obvious in the victory of Shashi Tharoor who had a close fight with the BJP in 2014. But this time, he almost had a cake walk, thanks to the large minority population who perceive the Congress as a better protector in shining armour against the BJP.
The second factor is connected with the first. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan gambled badly in trying to woo the minority community by taking an aggressive stand on the Sabarimala women entry issue. His game-plan was to act tough on an issue that the BJP considered dear and thus send out a message to the minority communities. But this did not work. On the one hand the minorities were indifferent to the Sabarimala issue and, on the other, the Hindu believers voted massively for the UDF. The BJP, which tried to take advantage of the Sabarimala issue, failed as the UDF successfully hijacked the movement.
The third factor was the violence unleashed by CPM workers who killed whoever came in their way. A series of murders involving senior CPM leaders rocked the state and the Pinarayi government did nothing. The UDF, through some telling photographs, managed to convey the message that the CPM not only encouraged violence but also shielded the culprits.
The Pinarayi government dealt some of the leaders accused of murders with kid gloves and even supported those who had been convicted. The party, including its outspoken state secretary, defiantly justified a murder accused saying he was wrongly convicted.
The last reason was the tardy manner in which the LDF government carried out the rehabilitation programme for the victims of last year’s floods. Despite nearly a year, many have not yet got a proper dwelling unit. The UDF was active in this cause and effectively used the media when it gave a house for the poor.
Footnote: The CPM may be down, but not out, unlike in West Bengal. The Kerala unit has the capacity to bounce back. But with Assembly elections two years from now, the party may find it tough even as the UDF tries to build further on their victory in the current elections.