Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan during a road show in Kannur on April 4. (PTI Photo) (PTI)
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan during a road show in Kannur on April 4. (PTI Photo) (PTI)

Assembly Elections 2021: Left is right in Kerala, again

Winning 98 out of the 140 seats in the assembly, the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front has made history of sorts in Kerala. The new ministry headed by Vijayan is likely to be sworn in on Tuesday
By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2021 03:14 AM IST

Kerala took a left turn again with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan bucking the four-decade-old electoral trend of the state that sees power alternating between the two main groupings.

Winning 98 out of 140 seats, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has made history. The new government headed by Vijayan is likely to be sworn in on Tuesday.

For Vijayan, who led the coalition from the front, it is a personal victory that will strengthen his position (as well as that of the Kerala unit’s) in the party, said political observers. The CPI(M) has been left licking its wounds in West Bengal, but the party can take cheer in the fact that the only Communist government in the country bounced back to power.

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Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury lauded the people of the state for reposing faith in the government. “The country is facing twin dangers, livelihood issues arising out of pandemic and threat to secular and democratic values. People of Kerala gave us immense support and will uphold these values,” he said in New Delhi.

Though the government faced many scandals and corruption charges, including the sensational gold smuggling case, arrest of party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son in drug and money laundering cases, and a controversy over alleged back-door entry in government services, the CM steered the coalition through the crises. His government also had to deal with two health crises (Nipah and Covid-19) and floods, which almost became an annual affair.

Vijayan, political theorist and writer J Reghu said, has successfully managed to brand himself as a competent leader. The party has amplified this, he added, pointing out that much more than ideological, this victory is a personal one for the CM.

Vijayan campaigned extensively in all 14 districts, denied seats to many senior leaders such as finance minister Thomas Issac, law minister A K Balan and public works department minister G Sudhakaran in the guise of instilling fresh blood, and saw off a factional feud following the retirement of his long-time party rival V S Achuthanandan.

The Opposition Congress-led UDF said it accepts the people’s verdict with humility. “It was least expected. We will go through factors that led to our defeat and take corrective steps,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

Though party leader Rahul Gandhi, an MP from the state, and his sister Priyanka Gandhi campaigned for the UDF, they failed to control the Left’s surge. “It seems cosmetic changes in the form of young candidates and the campaign of the Gandhi family failed to help. The party will have to be restructured,” said G Pramod Kumar, a political analyst and former senior adviser of the United Nations Development Programme.

The BJP-led NDA also drew a blank. It forfeited its lone seat in the outgoing house. “Metro Man” E Sreedharan, who was inducted into the party a month before election, and made the news more for his controversial statements than anything else, failed to retrieve the party’s fortunes. He was defeated in Palakkad by sitting legislator Shafi Parambhil of the Congress by a margin of over 3,000 votes.

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