The heavy polling of 77.68 per cent in the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala has left the three fronts - CPM-led LDF, Congress-led UDF and BJP-led NDA - confused and make claims and accusations of cross-voting. It was the highest polling percentage in the last 30 years.
The LDF, left shocked by the candidature of Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, has reasons galore to be upset. If there have been indications of a verdict unfavourable to the front, the 'rude' reaction of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to mediapersons a day after the poll could be a reflection of that.
When the media sought his reaction to the high poll percentage, Pinarayi showed his annoyance and shouted: “Stay away.” He then walked away in a huff. His intolerance was exemplified earlier when he literally drove away journalists from a meeting venue. Also during a recent election campaign, a ‘nama japa’ (chanting of hymns) over the mic from a temple nearby, left him intolerant and he asked those on the dais what was happening. All this was little realising that he was not a party secretary, but the Chief Minister of the people of his state or under a false notion that he was above all.
The 'shock’ over the high polling was obviously analysed by the CPM state secretariat on Friday. Gone are the days when CPM poll managers would with certainty assess the situation after the polls and make a rough but near-correct calculation of the votes for the party. Also, the certainty that higher the poll percentage, lower the prospects of an LDF victory no longer exists.
The CPM which has assessed a win in seven seats for the LDF - Kasaragod, Palakkad, Alathur, Thrissur, Alappuzha, Attingal and surprisingly Kollam - asserts that the BJP will not open its account in Kerala. This is when the RSS assessment is a win for the BJP in Thiruvananthapuram and likelihood in Pathanamthitta, the heartland of Sabarimala.
Whatever claims the CPM may make, Rahul's entry to the Kerala electoral scene did boost a pro-UDF situation in Kerala. The victory of the Congress in three BJP-ruled States recently did have an impact on the politically conscious Kerala voters.
The Sabarimala issue, the point around which BJP harped in this election, did create waves and saw Hindu consolidation to a certain extent. But BJP, which saw hopes in the majority community rage against the LDF trying to forcefully implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages worship at Sabarimala, will have to share the spoils of this with the UDF. At no time in the history of Kerala has majority thinking favoured only BJP. If it were so, the party would not have had to struggle this long to find space in Kerala politics.
The CPM, which expected the renaissance values it raised through the Women Wall against the Sabarimala agitation come to its rescue, appears to have realised that the whole issue has backfired. Party cadres admit that across the State there has been a reluctance from some quarters, who had solidly stood with the party for long, to vote for it this time.
While CPM was the first to raise the charge of BJP voting for the UDF in at least five seats, as if seeking anticipatory bail, the revelation of KPCC president Mulappally Ramachandran that CPM did vote for UDF in Vadagara and that party leaders made it clear to him has come as a shocker to the Left.
The wind did blow in UDF favour and the LDF had little to make claims on its government's performance. BJP will raise its vote share substantially and could even scrape through in Thiruvananthapuram where UDF candidate Shashi Tharoor complained of lack of support from his partymen. If, according to Congress sources, some of its supporters voted for BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan in Thiruvananthapuram, it got votes in return in Vadagara.
Pinarayi, the Chief Minister who adamantly refuses to grow beyond a party secretary, will certainly owe explanation on several counts. Why because, when his party itself admits that BJP vote share will go up, he has to say how much of it went from his party. He needs to admit that his handling of the Sabarimala issue gave big political space to BJP. And if the BJP opens its account, he again will have to own responsibility for this. He will have to explain how his party's warhorse Jayarajan tasted defeat, if it happens, in Vadakara. Again, if there was minority consolidation,something he has been working for under the guise of renaissance, he has to explain if it did work in the party's favour or as expected helped the UDF. Women voters outnumbering men may have had nothing to do with the much-touted Women Wall.
It is time Pinarayi gave up his insolence and audacity to shout down opposition and be candid after the Election Commission decrypts the votes on May 23.