People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 05, 2011


Assessing the Election Results in Kerala


Pinarayi Vijayan


CONTRARY to the common perception, the results of the thirteenth Kerala legislative assembly elections have astounded the right wing forces and their backers. It is true that the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) has grabbed more seats than the CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and thus the results entitled the UDF to form a government. But an accurate estimation of the election results in the state vividly shows the fact that the political base of the LDF has further expanded.




It is notable that the LDF’s vote share was 41.95 per cent during the last Lok Sabha elections held in 2009 but then it increased to 42.46 per cent during the local bodies’ elections in 2010. Moreover, the LDF vote share further increased to 45.13 per cent in the recent assembly elections. Thus the LDF has registered a significant increase of 3.18 per cent in its votes, compared to the parliament elections in 2009.


This time the voting difference between the UDF and the LDF was of a paltry 1,55,571 votes, and the overall result was that while the UDF got 72 seats, the LDF captured 68. The LDF’s defeat in five of the seats --- namely, Piravam, Manaloor, Azheekkode, Parassala and Kottayam --- was by very meagre margins of 157 to 711 votes.


Another momentous feature in this election is that the CPI(M), which will now sit in the opposition, has emerged as the single largest party in the state assembly in terms of the number of seats and voting share. The traditional perception that the biggest ruling party would be the single largest party in the state assembly has thus been altered in this election.


The pro-people performance of the erstwhile LDF government has been the major factor that resulted in this increasing support for the LDF in the elections. Combatting the central government sponsored neo-liberal policies, the LDF government rendered immense relief to the people with its alternative policy. In fact, it was a comparative estimation of the UDF government during the 2001-06 period and of the LDF government during the 2006-2011 period that made the people extend their support to the LDF. The budgets of the LDF government also impressed the people at large. As it happened, the unprecedented countrywide price rises due to the central government’s policies had had a significantly lesser impact on the people of Kerala because of the alternative policies and market interventions of the LDF government. Thus the LDF government was able to gain confidence of more sections of the people.


As a matter of fact, numerous interventions of the LDF government augmented its image among all sections of the people, irrespective of their religious and caste sentiments. During this period, the LDF government scored several notable successes and momentous achievements in favour of the people. As a result, unlike the earlier elections, an increased number of people opted to vote for the LDF.


Also, the LDF was indisputably unified and fought the elections in a cohesive manner. The Vikasana Munnetta Jatha, organised by the LDF, vividly showed increasing support for it. People thronged the reception organised for the jatha at various centres throughout the state.




On the other hand, unlike the LDF, the UDF was not in a position to function as a cohesive force due to its internal tussles. In the initial stage, after the merger of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) with the Kerala Congress (Mani), the tussle was on the question of which was the second largest party in the UDF. After the merger, the KC(M) claimed the second position in the UDF while other UDF constituents opposed its claims with open statements. Their squabbles further aggravated during the seat sharing negotiations. The Congress party and the Socialist Janata openly fought each other to stake their claim for the Chittoor assembly seat. It was for the first time in the history of Kerala assembly elections that a partner of a coalition declined to contest a seat allocated to it. The CMP and the JSS were also annoyed with the Congress and thus the UDF became a camp of disarrays during the elections. It battered the image of the Congress led front and some sections subsequently moved away from the UDF.


While the UDF constituents mutually fought one another, internal fights in the Congress party that leads the front also gained momentum. After declaring the KPCC president’s candidature in Delhi, opposition leader Oomman Chandy openly turned against Ramesh Chennithala, the KPCC president. It further intensified to become a dispute to claim the chief minister’s post. K K Ramachandren, a Congress leader and a former minister in the erstwhile Oommen Chandy ministry, openly came out in a press conference with corruption charges against some former UDF ministers. A corruption charge of Rs 256 crore was levelled against Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala in a deal related to the Travancore titanium factory. K K Ramachandren, who was earlier in charge of the Pollution Control Board, accused Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala of having pressurised him for giving consent to an illegal deal.


The latest disclosures in the notorious ice cream case too came just prior to the assembly polls; these disclosures were by the brother-in-law of Kunhalikkutty, a leader of the Indian Union Muslim League. These disclosures generated a first rate crisis and dispute in the Muslim League. The revelations against Kunhalikkutty were originally telecast by the Indiavision news channel whose chairman is Dr M K Muneer, a leader of the IUML, and consequently they created disarrays in the IUML. In order to thwart any setback to the electoral prospects, the IUML had had to find out some or other temporary solution. Through these shocking revelations in the ice cream case, including those about bribing some High Court judges, the electorate saw how outrageously the governmental powers were being misused during the UDF regime.


After the conviction of a former UDF minister, Balakrishna Pillai, in the Edamalayar corruption case by the Supreme Court, the people were gripped with an apprehension that the formation of a government by the UDF would further aggravate corruption in public life. The UDF maliciously tried to distort the imprisonment of its leader by terming it as a policy of political vengeance but the people contemptuously rejected this campaign. The UDF’s defeat in the Kottarakkara assembly segment, which the UDF leader had won many times earlier, evidently establishes this fact.




The LDF successfully raised all these issues before the people during its election campaign. The election rallies which the LDF chief minister, V S Achuthanandhan, addressed, were significant for the enormous participation of the general public. When the chief minister himself raised before the public questions regarding the degeneration of the UDF, the people widely appreciated the concern. The campaign on these issues too helped the LDF to expand its support base.


The corruption scams that surfaced at the national level were also debated vigorously in the assembly campaign. The huge scams in the 2G spectrum deal and S Band spectrum deal, Adarsh housing scheme, the Commonwealth games etc roused the people’s anger against the ruling Congress party. It was at that very time when a renowned Gandhian, Anna Hazare, begun his hunger strike in Delhi, demanding the enactment of a Lokpal Bill --- which the Left forces in the country have been demanding for long. The media focus on Hazare’s hunger strike made the people realise the murky depths of corruption in the country, when the prime minister himself was not spared. Such agitations, coming up during the course of the election campaign in Kerala, also aggravated the people’s sentiments against the Congress party ruling the centre.


The UDF tried to attack the LDF on the lottery issue which was maliciously fabricated for the election purposes. But its campaign faced a serious setback after the central government filed an affidavit in the High Court, which exposed the UDF’s double standards.


In sum, the UDF found itself in a position of defence during the election campaign. However, the right-wing media organisations in the state consciously chose to come out in defence of the UDF. Even though the UDF could not organise an effective house to house campaign with its squads, media groups made for this shortcoming of the UDF with their virulent campaigns on a daily basis. A section of the media let loose a whole barrage of false propaganda against the LDF.


The UDF also took recourse to money power extensively in order to manipulate the mandate. In many parts of the state, the UDF tried to influence the voters by using plenty of liquor. Moreover, it had clandestinely distributed an illicit magazine, called the Crime, which carried unethical stories. It not only unmasked the UDF leaders’ rhetoric of a democratic campaign and ideological debate but exposed their bankruptcy to raise any serious political issue against the LDF. The LDF, on the other hand, stood steadfastly in the campaign with its principled position. When the UDF failed to combat the LDF with any political question, it ridiculously bowed down before the caste and communal forces for narrow political gains.