Cong call fails to woo LDF allies in Kerala
The two parties — Kerala Congress (Mani) and Loktantric Janata Dal (LJD) — that had left the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) before the assembly elections, on Monday made it clear that there is no scope for political realignment in the state.
The call given by opposition Congress, during its recently concluded ‘Chintan Shivir’ session, to win back some of the allies that crossed over to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) -led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has failed to elicit positive response from allies of the ruling front.
The two parties — Kerala Congress (Mani) and Loktantric Janata Dal (LJD) — that had left the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) before the assembly elections, on Monday made it clear that there is no scope for political realignment in the state. “The LJD will remain with the ruling front. I have no idea what prompted the Congress to give such a call,” said LJD leader M V Shreyams Kumar.
The two-day (July 23-24) ‘Chintan Shivir’ held by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee in Kozhikode (north Kerala) had sought like-minded parties to unite against what it called “fascist agenda of both, the CPI(M) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.
The event was held on the lines of the national-level session held in May, this year at Udaipur in Rajasthan.
The Congress has prepared a blueprint for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, called ‘Kozhikode Declaration’, to help repeat its 2019 performance. The UDF had bagged 19 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats.
“The ruling LDF is following the same fascist agenda that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing at the Centre. Due to this, many Left constituents are dissatisfied and we are welcoming them to the UDF,” stated the declaration read out by state president K Sudhakaran.
It also called for immediate measures to win minority communities that deserted the Congress camp in 2021 assembly elections helping the CPI(M) to continue its reign. The party feels that though minorities voted en masse for the Congress candidate in Thrikkakara by-poll two months ago, the trend has to be consolidated till 2024. But its overtures were taken with a pinch of salt by the LDF partners.
“We are happy with the LDF camp. There is no scope for any fresh realignment at this juncture. The party suffered a lot in the UDF and there is no question of going back,” said Kerala Congress (M) leader Stephen George. A predominant Christian party, the Kerala Congress (M), had left the UDF in 2020. The unit had helped the LDF in winning several many assembly seats in Christian heartland of Kottayam and Idukki.
Criticising the Congress, CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran said, “It seems the party is desperate for power.”
The Congress, however, reiterated that many constituents in the LDF are unhappy and will join the UDF soon. “The CPI recently said the Kerala government is known by Pinarayi government, not the LDF government. Many allies are unhappy with the one-man style of functioning of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan,” said opposition leader V D Satheesan.
Party leaders said the ‘Chintan Shivir’ was a refreshing move and the party took many decisions to strengthen its mass base in the state. Some of the decisions include complete organisational revamp till booth level, steps to strengthen local units in six months and internal complaint committee for women. “An action plan will be formulated for every month and a committee will be constituted to implement them,” said K Sudhakaran MP.
“The party is always secular. We have to shed some of our soft Hindutva position. This will help regain confidence of minority communities. The BJP is our main rival and the CPI(M) is only secondary,” said senior leader K Muraleedharan MP during the meet.
Two former PCC presidents V M Sudheeran and Mullapally Ramachandran skipped the meet. “Kerala is a key state for Congress. The recent by-poll win helped reinvigorate the party to an extent and it has to keep tempo till 2024 to repeat its 2019 performance,” said political commentator John Mary.