On April 23, at an election rally near Kozhikode district’s Vadakara in Kerala, CPI(M) veteran VS Achuthanandan donned a magician’s hat, showed a few tricks and won the crowd. But the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) will need more than a few tricks to win the Vadakara assembly constituency.
What makes the four-cornered Vadakara elections interesting is the candidature of Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP)’s KK Rema. She’s the widow of slain former CPI(M) leader and founder of RMP, TP Chandrasekharan.
“I had decided to not contest the elections, but many people were persuading me, and since this is the first assembly election since Comrade TP’s killing, I thought this could be a chance for the people to react to it,” said Rema.
The fact that the LDF is taking the contest seriously, especially after it lost the Vadakara Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 polls to the UDF, is evident in that it has fielded 78-year-old sitting MLA and JD(S) leader CK Nanu. The UDF has fielded JD(U)’s Manayath Chandran and the BJP M Rajesh Kumar, a state secretariat member. Political analysts say one of the reasons the UDF won in 2014 was because the RMP took about 30% of the LDF’s vote share. This time too, the RMP is focusing on the LDF, highlighting its ‘pro-corporate’ stand and ‘anti-people’ decisions. “The CPI(M) has abandoned the working classes and today it is focusing on protecting the interests of corporate and the moneyed-classes. It is no longer a Left party,” said Rema. “The CPI(M) has changed from a labourers’ party to a killers’ party.”
How did TP Chandrasekharan die?
TP Chandrasekharan was a CPI(M) leader. He left the party in 2008 and formed RMP. In 2009, RMP defeated CPI(M) in local body polls and was making inroads into LDF strongholds. On May 4, 2012, he was hacked to death. Three Left leaders were convicted and many others were accused in the murder case.
Observers, however, feel the RMP will have a limited impact. “Other than criticising the CPI(M), the RMP does not have a political programme. I also don’t think Rema can have the impact TP had in Vadakara,” a professor in a college in the constituency said. “The main fight will be between Nanu and Chandran.”
North Kerala is no stranger to political killings. Estimates are that in the last five years, close to 40 people across party lines lost their life in acts of ‘political vendetta’. Of these, the most controversial and politically debated incident was Chandrasekharan’s killing.
“The tears of those women who lost their loved ones to political killings will speak this election, and perhaps history will be created in Vadakara,” said Rema. On May 19, when the votes are counted, it will be clear if Vadakara has heard Rema’s message for a “new kind of politics”.