Voices Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 05:30
  By Jose Joseph Kochuparambil Sandesam, the cult political satire, has a narration that is most often quoted after election results, especially if the left parties end up on the losing side. And after facing the sixth major election defeat in 6 years (2009 general election, 2009 by-elections to Kannur, Ernakulam and Alleppey, 2011 state election, by-election at Piravom, by-election at Neyyattinkara and now Aruvikkara), the Left Democratic Front, and especially CPI(M), finds itself in a tough situation. The organizational procedures of CPI(M) to review these unpleasant results may not be a matter of public discourse, but the question that was raised by Comrade Uthaman in the movie mentioned above remains relevant. Why did they lose? Five major factors that contributed the most to this failure could be: 1. The BJP Surge To set the records straight, this is not the first instance of BJP gaining more than 30,000 votes in a state legislative constituency. To quote the most recent examples, O.Rajagopal himself had garnered 30,000+ in Neyyatinkara (2012) and 43,000+ in Nemam(2011). Unlike Nemam, Manjeswaram or Neyyatinkara, BJP did not enjoy a very strong organizational base in Aruvikkara. Still, O.Rajagopal and BJP could increase their vote share from 6.6% to 24%. And this is due to three main reasons: a. As Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had rightly commented on the day before the result, there was a strong anti-incumbency wave across the constituency due to umpteen reasons, but M.Vijayakumar failed to capitalize from it, allowing the BJP to win a majority share of the votes against the Oommen Chandy government.   b. Increasing penetration of Sangh parivar politics among Kerala’s Hindu population has also started paying its dividends. Social classes that have historically aligned with one of the two political fronts, have started identifying the BJP as a possible winning bet, atleast in the near future.   c. O.Rajagopal’s personal profile rightly fits the social requirements of Thiruvananthapuram electorate. While it would be unrealistic to interpret that any candidate from BJP will have the same levels of success in that region, for this election, it can be categorically stated that BJP and its share of votes defeated M.Vijayakumar. 2.  The Karthikeyan factor Being a bye-election that followed the death of the incumbent, an element of sympathy was bound to be on the cards. United Democratic Front and Indian National Congress decided to leverage the same by fielding a family member in the fight. And this is not something new for the electoral political scene of Kerala. But the gravest mistake from the LDF camp was the line of campaign that questioned the track record of G. Karthikeyan, and the political credentials of his son Sabarinadhan to follow him. While the later ended up reminding the electorate that Sabarinadhan was GK’s son repeatedly, the former got interpreted as an attempt to malign the image of deceased political leader, who was definitely a respected figured when compared with his contemporaries. LDF’s campaign to muddy Karthikeyan’s name has backfired badly. 3.  The better candidate profile Kerala, in the last few elections, has repeatedly shown its affinity for candidates who are young, and more importantly, educated. Just like an employment opportunity in the corporate sector, the electorate has been demanding for a rich Curriculum Vitae for their probable representatives. A younger breed of educated leaders has emerged in both UDF and LDF camps recently, and many of them have reached the legislative houses at the state or centre, and have displayed commendable records of performance and public interaction. And Sabarinadhan trumped his immediate opposition by a large margin here. A well-educated young man who has worked for Tata Trust– that was too good a temptation, atleast for the upper middle class and young voters. Compared to this, M.Vijayakumar could not inspire the non-political and new votes towards him. 4.   The dwindling Left platform LDF has, of recently, become less leftist. The last attritions from LDF have significantly reduced the acceptance of the Front to a wide range of social classes, which have been reluctant to align with Communist movement for multiple reasons. Parties like Socialist Janatha and Kerala Congress could offer an extended platform to such groups. Such an arrangement also used to provide a more mild and popular face to the Front, unlike some of the serious figures in the Communist parties. In a state like Kerala, with a completely diverse demography, an extended political platform is a necessity for CPI(M) and CPI to remain relevant. 5.   The non-existent Others Candidates like K.Das and Poonthura Siraj were supposed to eat into UDF’s vote share. In reality, NOTA votes defeated them both. Enough said.