Kerala elections 2016 -An enigma for national parties.for THE STANCE...
By VK Cherian, is a media person of three and a half decades in the national capital.
Kerala continued to be an enigma for national parties in the elections to assembly in 2016 too. Reason , whichever way the verdict goes, for not just the traditional rivals Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) and CPIM led Left Democratic front (LDF) and new entrant NDA led by BJP, it will have a national impact, which will have a bearing on the national stature of these parties.
For the Indian national Congress, it is not just the question of retaining power in Kerala, but retaining its present local leadership and delicate party group equations. A victory or otherwise can change the fortunes of the various local leaders like Chief Minister Ommen Chandy, KP
The many surveys of the Congress give the high command a feeling that though it is a difficult to regain power, but with a right intervention it is still possible. For such a dramatic comeback, they need to project a combined leadership if not a person like AK Antony, who is acceptable to all groups of Congress and people in general. A loss in Kerala means, Congress being reduced Himachal Pradesh in the North, Karnataka in the South and Mizoram in the North east of India. The party which ruled Assam is being challenged by the BJP-AGP combines there too and though the odds are favouring Congress as per initial reports, it needs to be seen whether the national party remains truly national.
For CPIM, the leaders of Left Democratic it is question of finding its lost place in national politics. A party which ruled three States of India and had even 60 odd MPs in Lok Sabha in 2004, is has now only one government in just one in Tripura North East and faces almost oblivion from national politics if it does not win Kerala. Its national stature is being seriously challenged with its dwindling influence in its traditional pockets of West Bengal and Kerala and rest of India. Adding to its woos is their dilemma they are faced with two warring tall leaders of the party, VS Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan. Just as Congress Chief Minister Ommen Chandy is no longer the hot favorite to lead the party in elections as his image is sullied by allegations of corruption, CPIM Central leadership is not sure that Pinarayi Vijayan can turn the already positive ambience created by the local body elections to a victory in assembly elections, due to his high handed ways of dealing with public issues. The Central leadership perceives that Achuthanandan , at 93, is still the best for going to an elections. However, as he is not willing to forgo his claim to a Chief Minister ship and Pinarayi is tired of his long wait for power, the Central leadership is involved a tight rope walk with both the leaders on the scenario after the election results. There is a possibility of fresh eruption of public spat between the two or VS announcing his retirement from active politics, both of which will be a dampener for the LDF in its run upto elections. A loss in Kerala for Left meant that their voice in Centre going down further and they get marginalized in national politics , as there is little hope for them to regain West Bengal in 2016.
As for Bharatiya Janata party, the rulers of Delhi, it is a long wait to open their account in the Kerala assembly. They had turned even the last by elections to assembly a prestigious fight, but ended up as a third in the number of votes at Aruvikkara. Though, they have tied up with SNDP floated BDJS led by Vellapally Natesahan, no one is sure they will gather enough votes in their own pockets to muster a majority. Adding to their worry is the fact that though they have improved their seats in local bodies across the State considerably in 2015 elections, they are yet to get a decisive majority in one single assembly seat. With issues like JNU and Hyderabad University incidents and general negative build up against Modi regime in the centre, it will be difficult for the NDA combine to reach the decisive majority to open an account in the State. The national leadership of BJP is keen that it opens account in Kerala assembly this time, as they perceive it is their best time to do so. Despite being an RSS strong hold if they are not able to do so, in the ground level divisions of votes, it will be a big embarrassment for the BJP and total face off for its regional and national leadership.
Adding to the worry of all the three political groupings is the last minute votes of the decisive 5% votes, which are not necessarily always politically committed. Going by the only public survey of the electoral mood by TV Channel Asianet, the difference between the winner and the loser is 4 percent of votes. Kerala voters being polarized in three camps, it will depend solely on this non-political 5% swing which will determine the winners and even for the NDA combine. That way, for the national parties, Kerala continue to be an enigma ensuring that they will keep their fingers crossed till the last minute about the outcome of the elections.