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Split Left could choke in final dash

Even the most optimistic comrade can claim that LDF can repeat its 2004 LS performance, writes Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2006 15:40 IST

Elections in Kerala are predictable — no government has pleased voters enough to get a second chance at power in the last 35 years. No wonder the Left is sniffing victory. But given the infighting that has torn the CPM apart in the run-up to the election, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) might botch its chances.

Even the most optimistic comrade can claim that the LDF can repeat its 2004 Lok Sabha performance. Though veteran VS Achuthanandan is back as the Left's CM candidate after a public wrangle, the bitter feud is bound to cost the Left dear. VS should know. In the 1996 assembly poll, he suffered a humiliating defeat in Mararikulam, a Communist heartland, mainly due to infighting.

The Karunakaran factor will also leave its mark. The CPM dropped senior leader K Karunakaran like a hot potato after nine months of an unofficial alliance, during which time it won many by-elections with his help. By dumping him, it expected a threecornered contest (UDF, LDF and Karunakaran's DIC-K ) to split UDF votes. Much to its dismay, Karunakaran has swallowed his pride and is back in the UDF. Karunakaran, a grassroots leader, has a strong base in at least two dozen constituencies. In Kerala, where the winning margin is always wafer thin, the DIC(K) will come in handy for the UDF.

For chief minister Oommen Chandy, despite a punishing 21-hour-day schedule, the task ahead is daunting. His development plank, fastpaced reforms or last minute poll carrots job quota for Muslims and Latin Catholics have not gone down well.

A strong anti-incumbency wave, corruption charges against ministers, farmers' suicides and growing unemployment are what the Left is banking on.

First Published: Mar 27, 2006 15:40 IST