Changing Indian politics: Leftists defeat the ruling Congress party in Kerala civic poll, Hindutva BJP makes impressive presence!


Changing Indian politics: Leftists defeat the ruling Congress party in Kerala civic poll, Hindutva BJP makes impressive presence!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

______

Indian state Kerala is witnessing a reversal of political fortunes, with the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) racing ahead of its rival Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) in as many as 530 of the 941 grama-panchayats in the State. In 2010, the alliance could win only about 365 grama-panchayats. Surprisingly, the Hindutva BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) has made a reasonably impressive showing in the grama-panchayats, securing leads in 16 grama panchayats, up from just two in 2010.

The supremacy of the LDF in the block panchayats at this point of time is more definitive with the alliance gaining block panchayats, the municipalities. Among the six corporations, in Kochi, financial center of the state, the UDF returned to power, as the LDF in Kozhikode. The picture was unclear in Thrissur as well where the LDF has emerged as the single largest council group.  In the newly formed Kannur Corporation, the UDF would be dependent on a dissident Congress candidate, who trounced all his other rivals to emerge victorious. The most striking outcome is that in Thiruvananthapuram. Here the BJP has emerged as the second large party, pushing the UDF to the third place. The capital city now has a hung corporation council, with the LDF falling short of majority by around 6 seats. In contrast, the BJP has won 34 wards.

As counting of votes for the local body elections in Kerala entered the final lap on November 07,  state ruling party Congress  faced the axe of the angry voters,  the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front is poised for a big win in three-tier local bodies. The LDF, which had suffered a severe setback in the last elections in 2010 Assembly poll , has staged a comeback in village panchayats, block panchayats, municipalities and corporation.

Congress displayed dismal show in local body elections of Kerala. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala seizes opportunity to target his rival and chief minister Oommen Chandy. Chandy had claimed the poll outcome would be referendum on his government. Kerala state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran expressed his shock at the poor showing of his party as everything was going on smoothly for the party and government. V M Sudheeran said the Congress could not make the expected gains. However, our support remains intact. He said the rout of Congress candidates in Thiruvananthapuram is a serious setback for the UDF. The party would examine the reasons behind the setback

Opposition leader and former CM of Kerala V S Achuthanandan, who led the Left campaign in the local body elections, said the verdict showed only secular, progressive politics has a place in Kerala. He said the minority communities have realized that only Left can fight against the communal agenda of the BJP. The impressive show of the LDF in Kozhikode and Wayanad attested that minority communities are with the LDF. The LDF could make inroads into UDF strongholds, he said. Achuthanandan said the poll outcome is a slap in the face of chief minister Oommen Chandy who is leading a ‘corrupt’ government in Kerala. He said the BJP-SNDP alliance has not made any impact in Kerala.

Congress party has been pushed to third place in local poll while the new comer BJP occupied the send place.   Kerala Hindus preferred ultra Hindutva parties like BJP rather than soft Hindutva Congress party which also cherished Hindutva ideology but refuses to fight the BJP openly.  People view Congress as a hidden ally of BJP secretly promoting the Hindutva agenda of BJP.  Many Indians think the Hindutva agenda originally belongs to Congress which just uses BJP to threaten Muslims and Christians.

BJP has made impressive wins in Kerala local poll as it has come first in Palakaad region and Municipality Council, new ruling party of Kasarkod Municipality and main opposition of Thiruvanathapuram Corporation, etc. By an impressive performance in the communist dominated state,

In South India only Kerala has thus far could stop the Hindutva parties from winning to win seat for state assembly or Parliament.  However, the BJP’s efforts to win as many seats as possible in local poll of Kerala have been fruitful and the leaders of BJP and its Hindutva allies like Siva Sena, on the basis of their improved performance in Thiruvanathapuram Corporation, the capital of Kerala state, where BJP has surprisingly come second after the Communists, pushing the Congress party to the third position, may have started dreaming of an MLA seat when the state goes to poll next year.  BJP is becoming a serious political force in the state of Malayalees.

Apart from media strategy, the BJP has converted the votes of Hindu Nair sub-caste called Izhava community under SNDP into definite Hindutva votes and that has paid off. In fact, BJP has become a national party by trapping religious and smaller/bigger political parties. .In the neighboring Tamil Nadu, BJP has courted both AIADMK and DMK alternatively to strengthen its political base, winning seat in assembly and Parliament. In Karnataka BJP formed first Hindutva government in South India but later it lost election to Congress party.

For the Congress party, now ruing the Kerala state and talks about “development” themes, the local poll debacle is unexpected and most surprising. The outcomes of local polls indicate that the ruling Congress would  be  in trouble as its  allies in the government, especially the Kerala Mani Congress which, caught in  corruption scam  is  in serious liquor scam trouble, could quit the alliance leaving the government in crisis.

It seems the Congress is scouting for reasons for electoral setback. Legislator T N Prathapan says UDF should discuss bar bribery scandal but Congress is not interested in it because apparently even CM Chandy is also involved in it.

BJP had majority in 66 wards out of 100 in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation in the LS elections in 2014 when former rail way minister O Rajagopal contested. But in the local body election, BJP could win only in 34 wards. With 24 seats, BJP emerges the single largest party in Palakkad municipality. However, no party has majority to rule. In the outgoing municipal body, BJP had 15 seats.

Though the BJP has made inroads into Congress forts it has also captured many seats of left parties, especially in the capital. O Rajagopal has popularized BJP among Keralites by contesting in parliamentary and state s assembly polls, though he lost in all his efforts.

A re-look is now needed perhaps at the BJP-SNDP alliance as it fails miserably in Cherthala municipality (in Alapuzha district  of former CM AK Antony belongs) where SNDP leader Vellappally Natesan has a sway, the BJP-SNDP Yogam alliance did not make the expected gains. BJP has not gained the expected dividends from south Kerala districts where SNDP Yogam has influence among backward Hindu voters.

The elections are a prestige fight for the Congress and CPM ahead of the crucial assembly polls next year in Kerala and the BJP will go all-out to garner at least a seat in order to open an account in the new assembly.

The CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has made a dramatic return to dominance at the grassroots in Kerala in a keenly contested local bodies’ poll, which has also pushed the BJP to the front as a claimant to the State’s bi-polar political space. It is a clear reversal of political fortunes as compared to the 2010 elections. BJP pushed the UDF to the third position in the capital city, opened its account in the Kollam Corporation, and emerged a crucial presence.

The defeat of Congress party, return of left parties and rise of BJP in Kerala, one of very few states where the party has control, has confusing message for the national onlookers especially when the BJP has been losing poll after poll in many states.

Meanwhile, Kerala CM Oommen Chandy has refused to step down by owning responsibly for the defeat of his party. Congress party would meet tomorrow to discuss the political turnarounds for the party in the state with 100% literacy.

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