Rewriting history: Pinarayi Vijayan breaks 4-decade-old political trend in Kerala

With the incumbent Left government retaining power in Kerala in the 2021 Assembly election, Pinarayi Vijayan bucks the trend.
Pinarayi Vijayan addresses a huge gathering of people.
Pinarayi Vijayan addresses a huge gathering of people.
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In the 1977 Kerala Assembly election, the United Front — led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) — came to power, with Congress veteran K Karunakaran as the Chief Minister. In the following Assembly election in 1980, the CPI (Marxist)’s EK Nayanar became the Chief Minister, heading the Left front. Since then, the political trend in Kerala was set — if the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) won one term, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) would come to power the next term. However, as the counting of votes for the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections progressed on Sunday, the trend changed for the first time since 1977.

In the 2021 Assembly election, the LDF has sailed past the majority mark of 71 seats (99 seats at 5.20 pm), to comfortably form a government for the second consecutive term in Kerala. With this, Pinarayi Vijayan has bucked the trend.

It was during the 1980 Kerala Assembly election that the two major politician fronts in Kerala today — CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-led UDF — were formed. At the time, parties such as the Indian National Congress (U) and Kerala Congress (Mani) were allies of the LDF, until they withdrew their support the following year and joined the UDF. The EK Nayanar government lost its majority in the Assembly and President’s Rule came into force, calling for mid-term polls in 1982.

In the 1982 Assembly election, the Congress-led UDF came to power, with K Karunakaran at the helm.

On one hand, the LDF courted a series of controversies, including the gold scam which involved bureaucrats and some ministers. On the other hand, the Pinarayi government was lauded for effectively managing the slew of crises that Kerala saw — the floods, Nipah and now the COVID-19 pandemic. The UDF, meanwhile, faced internal crises ranging from lack of leadership to defections over seat allocation and alleged groupism. Amid this, the LDF maintained victory this year.

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