Congress accuses CPM of selling its votes for BJP

Thiruvananthapuram : Allegations regarding vote trading come up after every election in the south Indian state of Kerala. This time, they have hit the media even before counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections held on April 10 has begun. As usual, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is at the centre of the controversy. The party was accused of entering into secret pacts with the Congress, mostly in the past, but this time, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is at the receiving end.  Former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, K Muralidharan alleged here on Thursday that the CPM had ‘sold off’ its votes in Thiruvananthapuram for BJP votes for its candidate in Kollam, where the battle is prestigious for the party. In fact, there was strong resentment among CPM cadres over the decision of the party’s senior partner, the Communist Party of India (CPI), to field a caste candidate in the state capital. The CPI had fielded Bennet Abraham, a Nadar Christian, to take advantage of a possible division of Hindu Nair votes between O Rajagopal of the BJP and Shashi Tharoor of the Congress. Even a section of the CPI workers could not come to terms with his candidature, as they had fought against corruption in the self-financing medical college he headed. There were allegations that the party had given the seat to Bennet, the principal of Karakkonam Medical College, for a consideration.  For the BJP, Thiruvananthapuram tops the list of its hopeful seats in the state.

In fact, the party workers have already started projecting Rajagopal as a union minister.

Rajagopal, who had served in the ministry of Atal Behari Vajpayee, ended a close third in the 2004 elections at Thiruvananthapuram. Kollam is equally important for the CPM, since a victory for its politburo member M A Baby is a must ,to vindicate its decision to deny the seat to the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).  Following this, the RSP had quit the LDF and fielded its most vocal leader, N K Premachandran, against Baby, with the support of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF). Curiously, Baby himself had alleged vote trading by the BJP at

Kollam.

Muralidharan sees the allegation by Baby as an attempt to cover up the secret pact between his party and the BJP. Premachandran has also dismissed the allegation as baseless. The UDF convenor, P P Thankachan, also strongly believes that there was a vote trading in the ongoing elections. He said that the BJP had entered into secret pacts with the CPM in many places in order to ensure that the Congress does not get the desired number to stake claim to form a government after the elections.  He said that the BJP had traded votes

to the CPM to minimise the number of Congress MPs.

However, Thankachan does not think that this would help the BJP open its account in the state.  He pointed out that the CPM had entered into unholy alliances with many, as they feared a debacle in the polls. It even joined hands with Sangh Parivar outfits like the Namo Vichar Manch and fundamentalist outfits like the Popular Front, he said, adding this wouldn’t help either the CPM or the BJP in Kerala. He believes that the UDF will win most of the seats.

 Vote trading was popular in the eighties, when the BJP was not a force to be reckoned with in Kerala. Several senior BJP leaders themselves had admitted that the party used to give votes to the Congress, especially in north Kerala because of their political rivalry

with the Communist cadres that ended in bloodshed. The party sought to put an end to the menace after Sreedharan Pillai assumed the charge of the party presidentship in the late nineties. Interestingly, the BJP votes saw a significant increase since then. Congress

leaders believe that the party resorted to the old practice this time to see its dream of opening an account in Kerala come true.

T K Devasia

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