Amidst a plethora of probes of officials close to the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, by Central agencies like the National Investigating Agency and the Enforcement Directorate, the Left Democratic Front has put up an impressive show in the just concluded local body elections in Kerala and revived hopes of winning a consecutive second term in the coming Assembly election.
The people of Kerala are known to change governments every five years. The Congress-led United Democratic Front trailed far behind the LDF and the BJP. Ploughing a lonely furrow, it came third.
The CPI(M)-led LDF and the UDF have been ruling Kerala alternatively for almost half a century now. The CPI(M) secretariat and the LDF State Committee which met in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday observed that with the local body poll verdict, the Left’s chances of continuing in office have improved.
Just before the local body elections, image of the LDF had touched the nadir with several charges of corruption, impropriety and scandals. M Sivsankar, then principal secretary to the Chief Minister, was sent to jail for his association with a gold smuggling ring having links with UAE Consulate; CM Raveendran, additional private secretary to the Chief Minister was being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Speaker of the Assembly, P Sreeramakrishnan, had to convene a press conference to deny any links with the gold smuggling ring. Denied bail, Sivsankar is still in jail.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, CPI(M) secretary in charge of Kerala, had to step down following the arrest of his son Binish on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. Riding on the wave of victory amidst these vicissitudes, Vijayan is embarking on a tour of the State on Tuesday.
The welfare measures initiated by the LDF government like service pension, free food kit and Covid-related programmes played a major role in the poll outcome. The BJP’s constant efforts to dent the image of Vijayan only refurbished it with the electorate.
The Political Affairs Committee of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee blamed lack of dynamic leadership, inadequate election preparedness, scarcity of funds and ill-informed selection for its humiliating defeat. Despite the government being mired in scandal, the UDF failed to take advantage of the situation.
Clamour for leadership change in the KPCC is getting louder by the day. The party cannot survive without a strategy and vibrant leadership. According to PJ Kurien, veteran Congress leader and former Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the party has been granting posts based on group equations and not on merit.
The Congress is not a cadre-based party. It draws strength from committees at the grassroots level. If the Congress fails to put its house in order, the UDF may cease to be the alternative to the LDF and yield place to the BJP which has been growing steadily in Kerala.
In 2016 it made its entry into the Kerala Assembly through veteran leader O Rajagopal. The party is poised to increase its numbers significantly in the coming Assembly election.