Thiruvananthapuram: The message inscribed in the results of the latest Assembly by-elections of Kerala is loud and clear, social and caste organisations should not meddle with electoral politics. In a democracy, fielding of candidates and electioneering are the prerogatives of political parties. Non- political players’ direct interventions in the political process are detrimental not only to the political system, but also to the wellbeing of the society itself. The recent Assembly by-elections, except Pala by-poll, are marked by campaigning which descended to a highly communalised affair. But the results indicate that the atmosphere created by the vicious campaigning did not influence the voters. The commands, declarations, advice and indications given by the organisations and institutions such as N.S.S, S.N.D.P Yogam and Orthodox Church have proved futile. Among these organisations, the N.S.S has crossed all the limits and came out in open support of U.D.F in Vattiyoorkavu and Konni, whereas S.N.D.P Yogam supported L.D F in all the five seats in general and a section of the Orthodox Church functionaries openly supported B J P in some seats.
The poll results also proved that the politically enlightened electorate of Kerala think higher than the political parties who always appease caste organisations in a veiled manner.
Among the last five by-polls , the Opposition, ie. the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) bagged Aroor, Ernakulam and Manjeswaram whereas the ruling Left Democratic Front(LDF) has to be content with Vattiyoorkavu and Konni. By adding the result of Pala by–poll which happened hardly three weeks ago, along with the latest elections, it is a tie. Both LDF and UDF managed to win three seats each. Even though the results looks like a tie, in fact it is the return of LDF to the game after it was decimated in the parliamentary elections which happened hardly five months before. In the Lok Sabha polls, the LDF suffered a humiliating defeat from UDF. The UDF has drubbed LDF by clinching 19 seats and LDF had to concede with only one seat. From the ashes of such a great fall, the LDF has risen to the heights and this victory will definitely boost their confidence at a time when the local body elections are round the corner.
The emphatic victories in Vattiyoorkavu and Konni helped the ruling LDF to raise its tally from 91 to 93 in the State Assembly. The UDF which suffered shocking defeats in their bastions of Vattiyoorkavu and Konni has managed to retain the Ernakulam seat by a narrow margin and captured Aroor which was held by LDF for one and a half decades. In Manjeswaram, the traditional citadel of Muslim League ,UDF won the seat by a convincing margin.
The unexpected results of Konni and Vattiyoorckavu actually compels Congress state leadership for a thorough self-introspection in the backdrop of the ensuing Local bodies election next year and Assembly polls which will be due on April 2021. The Congress leaders have already started private discussions on the factors which affected the electoral prospects of the party and the Front. The party’s efforts to appease caste organisations, selection of candidates based on group loyalty, the personal rivalry between leaders, adverse remarks made by some leaders at the time of candidate selection and inability of the leadership to take up issues which directly affects people in campaign trail were the factors that contributed the defeated—a Congress leader pointed out.
Congress leaders also came out with allegations of vote transfer against BJP and CPM..Mullappally Ramachandran KPCC President, alleged that the victory achieved by LDF in Vattiyoorkavu is the result of a secret pact with the BJP.
The CPM leaders on the other hand, dub the electoral verdict as an endorsement of development agenda and welfare activities put forward by the LDF government. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan termed the results as a verdict against religious, casteist and communal forces. He hoped that various community organisations will rectify the approach they took in the run up to the bypolls. He added that the victory will make LDF leaders humbler and more responsible.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran described the results as the peoples’ response to the false campaign unleashed by the Opposition Congress and BJP.
The Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that the results clearly indicate the expansion of LDF mass base in the state.
Another remarkable feature of the by-elections is the poor performance of BJP .The huge setback that the party suffered in Vattiyoorkavu will create a lot of problems for them in the days to come. The BJP leadership is finding solace on getting the second position in Manjeswaram and the performance of K.Surendran at Konni. But the erosion in their vote share places the party leadership in poor light. The electoral set back which came as a hit on the head to the party state leaders, may force the Party Central Leadership to take hard decisions. There are ample indications that a complete restructuring of party organisation and total replacement of leadership is on the cards.
Party state president P.S.Sreedharan Pillai told the media that the party would study the factors that led to the humiliating defeat especially in Vattiyoorkavu and the decline in vote share in Konni . These are the two seats along with Manjeswaram where the BJP cherished big dreams.
The views and facts mentioned in the commentary are that of the author