When Kerala goes to polls, CPIM is seemingly looking confident.

Voices Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 05:30
By N K Bhoopesh When elections were announced last month, Kerala Chief Minister went on the offensive by declaring that he will treat the election result as a referendum on his government’s functioning. Caught unawares by sudden belligerence by an otherwise lackluster chief minister, even CPIM lead opposition could not respond to the challenge immediately. But when electioneering comes to a close and Kerala goes to the polls on April 10th, CPIM seems to be happily waiting to see how the chief minister will react after referendum is out on May 16th. In a poll, conspicuous by the absence of wave of any sorts, CPIM is rightly hoping to improving its tally and to win majority of seats from the state When elections were declared opinion polls suggested, Congress led UDF is poised to keep ahead. Bickering in the CPIM, and LDF, and sudden found enthusiasm in KPCC after the anointment of Mr popular V M Sudheeran as the President, created a perception that UDF may be leading the campaign. When Revolutionary Socialist Party parted ways with the LDF, in protest against the denial of seat, it was initially seen as a fallout of CPIM’s big brother attitude. But CPIM soon changed perception, by systematically campaigning against what the they termed as opportunistic stand of RSP. CPIM alleged RSP’s severing of ties with LDF and joining the UDF camp smacks of political opportunism unheard in recent history . With old comrades, CPIM polit bureau member M A Baby and RSP leader N K Premachandran as UDF candidate locking horns, Kollam constituency has become cynosure of political eyes in Kerala. A sudden bonhomie that has developed between hitherto warring factions of the CPIM, one lead by the state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, and the other by opposition leader VS Achuthanandan, seems to be paying rich dividends for the LDF. CPIM sympathisers believe this will be reflected at least in Kollam and Alapuzha seats. The major upsets CPIM got in the last hustling was from Kannur and Vatakara. Selection of candidates, coupled with dissension with in CPIM, and parting of Socialist Janatha Party caused LDF heavily in the last election. But the LDF could reverse the trend in the last assembly election held in 2011. While UDF candidates in Vatakara and Kannur won the seats by about 50,000 votes, LDF regained the lost ground in the last assembly election and was able to muster convincing lead in these constituencies in 2011 itself. Party sympathisers believe that political situation since then has only brightened for the party. CPIM believes that political killings debate sparked after the brutal killing of TP Chandrasekharan, will not affect the poll outcome, and since they have expelled a local leader who was found guilty of the murder. The latest allegation by the RMP, that the LDF candidate A N Shamsheer had links with killer gangs may add to the confusion amongst CPIM sympathisers. Corruption cases involving staff members of Chief minister’s office and high court chastising the rulers added to woes of the ruling front. Though the government was able to get the court observation stayed, the opposition believes this will have direct bearing on the voters. Another silent change that will enhance the prospects of the left front is change in Muslim voting habits. Though Indian Union Muslim league continues to be the largest Muslim party, its hegemony on the collective political thinking of the Muslim masses seems to be waning. This is reflected in the mushrooming of various political parties, claiming to be champions of minority causes. Parties like SDPI, Welfare Party are capable in making inroads in to Muslim majority areas. The collapse of the idea of Muslim vote bank, hitherto in the custody of the UDF, will be a game changer in Kerala politics, feel some election observers. Though it will be naïve to believe that political hold of the IUML among the minority community is completely over, the writing on the wall for the oldest minority party is becoming clear. The CPIM however hopes to make immediate gains from it. When Kerala goes to polls, CPIM is seemingly looking confident. Any improvement from their earlier tally of four seats, will be an advantage for a party which is struggling to keep its national party recognition. But if it can win more than half of the seats, and is seen as a referendum for the Oommen Chandy government, May 16 will be an important day in state politics too. Bhoopesh is a senior journalist based out of Kerala
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