Kerala poll results show CPI(M)’s contentious two-term rule didn't damage prospects

The CPI(M) had not fielded MLAs who had served two consecutive terms, thereby forcing senior party leaders and sitting ministers to opt out of the race.
CPI(M)'s red flag blowing in the wind
CPI(M)'s red flag blowing in the wind
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In the first week of March, the CPI(M) state committee decided that tickets to contest the Kerala Assembly elections will not be given to those who have contested the Assembly polls for two consecutive times. The party ostensibly took the call to infuse youngsters in the party and shrug off political baggage. While this decision caused immense heartburn to many senior party leaders, including several sitting ministers, the results of the election have shown that the decision did not cost the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) a major setback.

Amongst those who were denied tickets based on the two-term rule were seven sitting ministers including Finance Minister Thomas Isaac. A total of 33 of CPI(M)’s previous legislators had been made to sit out irrespective of how stupendous their performance had been in the previous elections. Of Pinarayi Vijayan’s ministers, only six were refielded by the party, even leading to murmurs that this was an attempt to reduce the influence of senior ministers.

In Ambalapuzha, from where Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran had won in 2016, H Salam of the CPI(M) was fielded who managed to win the constituency. In Tarur, in place of the incumbent MLA and Law Minister AK Balan, CPI(M)’s PP Sumod was fielded and in Alappuzha where Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had won two times, PP Chittaranjan was fielded, both of whom won their respective constituencies.

In Mattanur, which is a CPI(M) stronghold in Kannur district, instead of EP Jayarajan, Minister for Industries and Sports who had won the constituency two consecutive times, Health Minister KK Shailaja who shifted from Koothuparamba won with a massive margin of 61,035 votes.

In Puthukkad in Thrissur district, where Minister for Education C Raveendranath was the incumbent MLA, KK Ramachandran was fielded, who managed to win.

Thrissur had been the constituency of Minister for Agriculture VS Sunil Kumar, a CPI leader. After the sitting legislator denied the ticket, the constituency witnessed a three-cornered fight with BJP fielding popular actor Suresh Gopi, UDF’s Congress candidate Padmaja Venugopal, and the LDF allotting the seat to CPI’s P Balachandran. A last-minute win saw P Balachandran emerge victorious.

In Cherthala, which was the constituency of Minister for Food and Civil Supplies P Thilothaman, CPI’s P Prasad won and in Punalur, the constituency of K Raju, Minister of Forests, Wildlife Protection, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, CPI’s PS Supal won.

In several segments, the Left workers had been reportedly stressed over the outcome after veterans were left out. But the LDF’s astounding victory, creating history by overturning the trend of alternating power every five years was changed for the first time since 1977.

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