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P.C. Punnen
P.C. Punnen
In My View

Kerala: Caste considerations set to reach the peak

P.C. Punnen

Very soon 5 assembly constituencies will see elections in Kerala. These were caused by the national general elections in which the CPM won only 1 seat out of twenty seats in parliament. It was a massive setback for the CPM and the CPI. But it is wrong to think that it was a spectacular victory for the Congress as some people do, and the Kerala leaders of the Congress day in and day out say. Because it was a national election, where Rahul Gandhi was the contestant and Keralites, as usual, thought Rahul was set to become the prime minister. The BJP lost the elections miserably and it was a foregone conclusion.

In the by election held in Pala, the bastion of the Kerala Congress, the CPM won accidentally; the candidate it supported or fielded, a NCP candidate, who lost to Kerala Congress' top leader Mani twice, won the third time. It was thanks to the dilution in the Kerala Congress, which has seen its major leader Mani winning Pala elections for nearly 53 years, a record.

The Kerala Congress seems doomed. It has never had any credibility as a political party. It split into several groups with each leader joining the Congress or the CPM alternatively. The party had begun as a communal alliance of the Christians and the Nair community. Both did not like the rise of the Ezhava community which was downtrodden once. The Nairs and Christians together outnumber the Ezhavas who form about 23 percent of Kerala's population, next only to the Muslim population. The Ezhavas, a vast of majority of who are staunch supporters of the CPM and the CPI. The Congress has tried every trick to woo them; had two chief ministers from the Ezhavas , C. Keshavan and R. Shankar. The Nairs and the Christians were disappointed. It led to the formation of the Kerala Congress by Mannath Padmanabhan, the NSS founder who led the Vimochana Samaram which led to EMS' first ministry’s dismissal. Indira Gandhi was the Congress President those days and Nehru was forced to resort to dismissal. It was condemned by Indira Gandhi's husband Feroze Gandhi who was an elected MP.

All that is history; times have changed. So has Kerala and India. Today the BJP is in power and the party hopes to win the Haryana and Maharashtra elections. Does it suggest India will progress and Congress will be wiped out? In short will there be a Congress ‘mukt’ India as the PM said? I hope it doesn't happen. No doubt the Congress is in dire straits; it is moribund.

The Congress and all other parties should join hands against the BJP and save the nation. MP Shashi Tharoor said the best thing; that it should not oppose all that Narendra Modi has done or said. As he said, the Congress should select certain issues which have harmed the voters. The present attitude of the Congress is quite disappointing; the Muslim community’s triple talaq removal and the move for a Common Civil Code will definitely get the support of the masses of India.

This does not mean Modi and Amit Shah have done only two great things. Assume that they were things long overdue. With them at the helm, look at the crisis India is facing; economic slowdown and growing unemployment of the youth of India. The Congress, especially Manmohan Singh and Narashima Rao, are equally responsible for the economic situation today, but no corrective measures have been taken by the BJP. Why?

All this brings to attention the by elections in Kerala. The BJP has a chance in the Malabar constituency where it lost by just 89 votes last time. In the other constituencies it has no chance. But the chances of deciding who should win in the process of casting their votes to the Congress or the CPM cannot be ignored. Almost the same thing happened in Pala. The BJP candidate Hari, couldn't win the number of votes the BJP got in the last general elections. The BJP has nothing to lose in the by elections but it can ensure the defeat of the candidates, belonging to the Congress or CPM. This vote transferring makes the BJP an important contender. In five seats it can back the Congress or the CPM as per the constituency’s assessment by its top leadership. This has happened before, not without the knowledge of the three top leaders, I guess.

The same can be said about the role of religious leaders; the bishops and the NSS leader G. Sukumaran Nair and the SNDP leader Vellapally Natesan. A complaint against Sukumaran Nair has been filed by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan related to the statements he made in public. Kodiyeri had sought the NSS leadership’s support in the past in the Sabarimala and other Nair related issues. That shouldn't have been done by the Marxist party. Sukumaran Nair will play to the gallery. The mutual relationship won't be affected by what they say to the public. The same can be said about the SNDP. Vellapally is a man playing different tunes at different times. His son is in the BJP camp, probably posted by Velapally. Velapally is pro CPM at this point of time.

The same can be said about Christian bishops. The Jacobite bishops are with the CPM. The Orthodox bishops are likely to be with the Congress for the simple reason that CPM has not implemented the SC verdict. The whole thing shows that the parties- CPM, Congress and BJP, care two hoots for their ideology. It shows also that we voters don't think much of the goings on in Kerala involving nothing short of pulling wool over our eyes.

TV channels will keep discussing and newspapers will keep reporting of the shoddy goings on including vote transferring for a few days; then they will have other news that would grip the attention of the public.

Votes cast in consideration of their faiths don't really gel with our constitution which declares different things for voters’ consideration. This new phenomenon in Kerala is bound to last. It was different fifty years ago.

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The facts and views expressed in the article are those of the writer.