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Posted on 13 May 2011
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ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

Congress limps back to power with fractured majority in Kerala

Oomen Chandy will have master political rope walking for the next five years to survive

Jeemon Jacob
Thiruvananthapuram

Oomen Chandy

Oomen Chandy

To the dismay of it's high command, Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) scraped through in the assembly poll in Kerala. Congress won 72 seats in 140 assembly constituencies and CPM led Left front managed 68 seats. Though Oommen Chandy, opposition leader and Chief Minister in waiting won his Puthupally constituency with thumping margin of 33255 votes, the performance of his party disappointed him. He did not conceal his disappointment while talking to Tehelka. According to him, it was 'VS factor' and chief minister’s misinformation campaign drubbed the chances of UDF in the state.

'We were expecting massive victory in the assembly poll. The UDF won the lok sabha election in 2009 and local election in 2010 with huge majority. So we hoped a similar voting pattern in the assembly poll also,' said Oomen Chandy. 'We will examine various factors that denied victory in many constituencies. A committee will be constituted to analyse our poll debacle and corrective measures will be taken,' he added.

But he was lucky to scrape through as six candidates of the left lost election for less than 500 votes and Congress won only 38 seats. Oomen Chandy denied the media speculation that there would be tug of war in UDF electing the chief Minister. PCC president Ramesh Chennithala, a strong contender for the chief minister's post, would pose threat against his smooth sail to power.

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“There is no crisis in UDF or in Congress. We will elect the leader of the Congress Legislature Party smoothly and democratically. You will be disappointed if you predict a tug of war in Congress for power,” Chandy said.

But narrow margin of single vote would aggravate the factional feuds in Congress and coalition partners. Rahul Gandhi also has some disappointment as his most favoured candidates like, KT Benny, M. Liju and Nindu Krishna lost with a huge margin in Congress strongholds.

Indian Union Muslim League which contested 24 seats has won 20 seats and Kerala Congress(Mani) has managed 9 seats . Both KM Mani and Indian Union Muslim League leader PK Kunjalikutty would demand lion’s share in government and Congress will have to make extreme compromises to continue being in power in Kerala. Even splinter groups in UDF like Kerala Congress Jacob, RSP and Kerala Congress - Pillai and Janata Dal can tilt the balance and Oomen Chandy will have to master political rope walking in Kerala for the next five years.

The election results revealed that despite aggressive factional infighting CPM remained as the largest party in the state with 45 seats. It was the 'VS factor' that saved CPM from the humiliating defeat and his high voltage victory in Malampuzha constituency established beyond doubt that people of Kerala wanted him back in power as chief minister. He has something to cheer about the results as the left front could manage 68 seats even after major allies like Kerala Congress(Joseph) and Janata Dal headed by media tycoon MP Veerendrakumar deserted the front and joined the Congress alliance.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, CPM politburo member who won from Thalassery with more than 23000 votes identified the communal alignment as the factor which favoured the Congress and denied the Left's return to power. 'Though Kerala never elected a ruling government back to power since 1977, we had a fair chance to come back as there was an anti-incumbancy factor against the VS government. But UDF played communal card among Muslims, Chrisitans and upper caste Nairs to gain votes,' Kodiyeri stated as the reasons which denied left a historical political victory in Kerala.

It is true that Left candidates lost heavily in Christian, Muslim and Nair pockets in the state especially, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Malappuram districts.

Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.
jeemonj@gmail.com


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Posted on 13 May 2011
 
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