People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 16, 2006
LDF Set For A Handsome Win
THE CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) are all set for the electoral battle to be held in Kerala in three phases – April 22, April 29 and May 3.
the first phase, polling will be held in the four districts of
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthita and Idukki. The next phase will see
the districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam, Eranakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram,
Kozhikode and Wayanad going to polls while
the final phase of elections on May 3 will be held in Kasargod and Kannur
districts. The counting of votes and announcement of results will take place on
May 11 along with the rest of the states. It is for the first time that
elections are being conducted in Kerala in more than one phase.
the recent history of electoral politics of the state repeats itself, the Left
is most likely to wrest power from the ruling coalition, which is war-torn with
umpteen number of internal feuds. The UDF, which came to power in the 2001
assembly polls with an impressive majority, is today isolated from the people
because of the anti-people policies it has implemented. It is also much-divided
house with the main force, Congress party, ridden with shameless factional wars.
Veteran Congress leader K Karunakaran, known to be a bete noire of A K
Antony and Oommen Chandy, had always acted as an internal opposition leader. He,
along with his son and former KPCC president K Muraleedharan, created much
ruckus in the party and the government, finally leading to severing of a long
association with Congress and formation of a new party, the Democratic Indira
Congress (DIC). Nine MLAs loyal to Karunakaran quit their membership in the
assembly pledging solidarity with the veteran leader. The DIC declared that it
would work against the anti-people policies of the state government. It had
plans for a tie up with the LDF but the proposal was rejected by the CPI(M). The
Muslim League vehemently campaigned for accommodating the father-son duo in the
UDF fold till the last minute.
political drama that unfolded in Thiruvananthapuram in the last weeks of March
finally saw Karunakaran and his party back in the UDF fold, much to the
dissatisfaction of chief minister Oommen Chandy who has faced the wrath of the
old leader. This was a complete U-turn from what Karunakaran and Muraleedharan
had preached in their party's state convention three days before the crucial
decision to go back to the UDF was made. The DIC is contesting on its own
election symbol. The Congress and the DIC signed a pact with some conditions
before forging the alliance. According to the agreement, the DIC will have to
merge with the Congress once the elections are over. Interestingly, just a day
joining hands with the UDF, Karunakaran denied having signed any such pact with
the Congress. Karunakaran had demanded 25 seats but with the Congress leadership
rejecting the demand, he had to be content with just 17 seats. The Muslim
League, which had spearheaded the compromise talks between the two parties gave
another seat for K Muraleedharan to contest. The whole incident has created
problems both within the Congress and the DIC. The two parties which had acted
like permanent enemies in the recently held elections in the state are today
struggling hard to convince their rank and file about the hastily-forged
alliance. In many constituencies, the DIC workers either quit the party or
openly rebelled against the state leadership. Both the Congress and the DIC face
unprecedented problems of rebel candidates in this election.
may be recalled that A K Antony, who was sworn in as chief minister of the state
after the UDF came to power in 2001, had to step down midway owing to the
discontent created among the people as a result of his government's policies.
There was widespread demand from the Congress and members of the coalition for
Antony’s resignation. Finally, the chief minister and some of the Congress
ministers stepped down from office and Oommen Chandy took control of the affairs
as chief minister. But Antony’s tenure had done much damage to the Congress
party and the UDF. The rights of the government employees were trampled upon and
their benefits drastically cut. The education sector was blatantly
commercialised to such an extent that the private managements began to dictate
terms to the government. N N Sooppy, minister for education in the Antony
government, proved to be a big failure. It was during Antony’s rule the
notorious police firing against tribals in Muthanga in Wyanad district took
place. For the first time in the history of Kerala, an adivasi youth was killed
in police firing.
fact, the major feature of the UDF rule this time was the unprecedented number
of custody deaths and police atrocities. Civilians and students who took to the
streets protesting against government policies were brutally beaten up. The
police frequently used tear gas shells, shock batons and grenades to quell
public protests. SFI state president Sindhu is still in crutches – she is
locking horns with the chief minister Oommen Chandy in the Puthuppally
constituency as a CPI(M) candidate.
crisis in agricultural sector and the increasing suicides of farmers are a
matter of serious debate during the poll campaign. The UDF manifesto for 2001
assembly had promised to the people of Kottayam district that a locked up
factory in the region will be opened with a golden key within 100 days of the
coalition’s coming to power. Five year later, the factory still remains locked
up. The leaders of the UDF hardly have to listen to public outcries since they
were busy fighting each other.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s presence in the elections is not very prominent. The
party has repeated its claim of opening account in the state assembly this time.
But in majority of the constituencies, their strength has gone down. The party
is also facing severe problems owing to factional wars. The party’s senior
leader and former central minister O Rajagopal is contesting from the Palakkad
constituency. The BJP has a history of selling votes to the UDF in the last
minute. This was very evident in the recently held civic polls and the bypoll in
Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. The BJP candidate C K Padmanabhan
realised that his own party had ditched him by selling its vote bank.
are several factors that decide the poll prospects of the major fronts in the
state. Despite all the communal forces and media monopolies joining hands with
the UDF against the LDF, the stage is set for the LDF to romp home in these