Kerala left front upbeat

Updated on Apr 23, 2004 02:51 PM IST

With even Kerala CM AK Antony admitting that elections would be tough because of dissidence in the Congress, the mood in the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) is upbeat as it hopes to win between 13 to 15 seats of the 20 in the May 10 elections.

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PTI | BySanu George, Indo-Asian News Service, Thiruvananthapuram

With even Kerala Chief Minister AK Antony admitting that elections would be tough because of dissidence in the Congress, the mood in the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) is distinctly upbeat.

The opposition front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is hoping that it will win between 13 to 15 seats of the 20 in the May 10 elections, up from nine in the last poll in 1999.

Buoyed by what they call an anti-United Democratic Front (UDF) wave in the state, LDF cadres are also excited by CPI-M politburo member VS Achuthanandan announcing that some second line UDF leaders would join their ranks after the elections.

This, coupled with certain Muslim organisations turning bitter critics of the UDF despite supporting them in 1999 has lifted spirits in the LDF camp.

Said LDF convenor Paloli Mohamed Kutty: "Antony is trying to put the failures of his three-year rule on the CPI-M and the LDF. We even offered full support to the Global Investors Meet but it failed because investors figured out that there was no effective government here.

"Antony's recent statements are like taking an anticipatory bail, ahead of the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) elections. This is a loss of confidence."

Added another opposition leader: "We expect to increase our tally from nine in 1999 to anything between 13 to 15 seats. There is a strong anti-UDF wave which is gathering momentum."

LDF leaders said the ruling front, which had got 11 seats last time might just retain four.

Organisations like the People's Democratic Party (PDP) led by the jailed Abdul Nazzer Mahdani are now bitter critics of the UDF.

"Antony now has talks with Hindu leaders and is implementing the Hindutva agenda, ignoring the minorities," said PDP working chairman C.K. Abdul Azeez.

Another group that has hit out at the Antony government is the Kanthapuram faction of the Sunnis, whose leader A.P. Aboobacker Musaliyar is unhappy that his organisation's nominee was not included in the Haj Committee and Waqf Board.

But the Congress-led UDF is fighting hard.

It is getting ready for its chief Sonia Gandhi's visit to the state next month. Besides, the party has also launched on a Renaissance Rally led by Antony that started Tuesday and will pass through all 140 assembly constituency before it concludes on May 4.

Reacting to Achuthanandan's statement that UDF leaders would defect, Information Minister and senior Congress leader MM Hassan said: "Everyone in Kerala knows that Achuthanandan is just a dreamer."

"Through our rally we hope to tell our rank and file that the Congress party is one and united. I think the rally would certainly help UDF prospects in the election," Hassan told IANS.

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