Thiruvananthapuram: Pinarayi Vijayan’s CPI-M splashed the lengths and breadths of Kerala in red after whitewashing the Congress-led United Democratic Front, creating history by ensuring a second term for his government.
This changes a 40-year old pattern, where the Left Democratic Front and the UDF alternated every sixth year.
In the process, the LDF improved its previous tally while the CPI-M was short of a simple majority on its own by only three seats. The ruling front won 99 of the total 140 seats, snatching six seats from the UDF, which had to be content with only 41 seats.
The UDF could put up a semblance of resistance only in three of the 14 districts, which included their traditional strongholds. It was only in Ernakulam district that the opposition could hold on to its bases. Districts like Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Kottayam, traditionally UDF bastions, landed up completely in the LDF lap.
The red wave swept prominent opposition leaders off the ground and even those who survived, like former chief minister Oommen Chandy, had to see huge erosion in their majority in their long-nursed constituencies.
Most importantly, the BJP forfeited its lone seat in the outgoing assembly, reducing a high-profile campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to nought. At one stage, the saffron party was leading in three seats, including Palakkad, where it had fielded Metro man P Sreedharan, but could not hold on to the lead at the finish.
The results, however, had a shocker in the defeat of Jose K Mani, leader of the Kerala Congress-M faction, which crossed over to the LDF with its predominantly Christian vote base. The changed equation is believed to have helped the ruling front consolidate its position in the Christian belt of central Kerala. Mani was counting on his group as probably the second most important partner of the ruling front on the basis of the poll outcome.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who addressed a victory press conference, but avoiding all fanfare in view of the Covid protocol, said he has kept his word by ensuring the closure of BJP account in the state, although the saffron party leaders have been talking about forming a ministry if it could muster just 30 seats.
Vijayan, who cut down the celebration to serving of red laddoos to media persons, dedicated the victory to the people of the state, who he said were showing a pointer to the future national politics. He attributed impressive performance of his government to the trust of the people in the LDF and in turn the ruling front’s trust in the people.
He also asserted that the election results were a powerful rebuff to the move to foist central agencies on the state with an agenda to stall the state’s development. He said these agencies, supported by the opposition, were weaving stories, which the people have seen through.
The chief minister accused the opposition elements of efforts to vitiate the pre-poll atmosphere by resorting to falsehoods as well as trying to subvert the government’s fight against various crises that had hit the state, including the Covid pandemic.
He asserted that the results amounted to an endorsement by the people of the policies followed by the LDF government as well as the ability of the CPI-M and the ruling front to deal with the political challenges facing the people of the state and their commitment to the values of secularism and democracy.
Vijayan promised that the vision of his government is to build a new Kerala, which can take care of its requirements and ensure the welfare of the people.
With the results off the screen, speculation has now shifted to the ministry formation. Some of the heavy weights of the outgoing ministry, such as finance minister Isaac Thomas, public works minister G Sudhakaran, industries minister E P Jayarajan were denied ticket in the current elections.