16 Apr 2009
As Kerala goes to polls on Thursday, the odds seem to be heavily against the Left coalition which won a record 19 out of 20 seats in 2004. The Congress-led UDF is expected to reap a rich poll harvest as it has a clear edge in at least 9 seats and may grab another handful, albeit with lesser margins.
No marks for predicting that the people’s disenchantment with the Left Front government will reflect at the hustings. Internal strife in the CPM and the coalition, corruption charges and allegations of terror links have all added to the problems of the comrades.
However, Congress gains may not be due to any renewed faith in the party or its leadership but the absence of a good alternative. That the competition is going to be stiff in some seats — notwithstanding the extreme unpopularity of the ruling front — indicates clearly that the Opposition may not have effectively harnessed the anti-incumbency in its favour.
Former UN under secretary general Shashi Tharoor, who is the Congress nominee from the Kerala capital, is unfazed by the CPM’s campaign which accuses him of being an agent of the imperialists. But the fact is that the Muslim votes are a matter of worry. Neelalohitadasan Nadar of the BSP, who enjoys significant clout in the Nadar sections, may walk away with a chunk of votes traditionally considered Congress. But the Nair community which is the largest votebank in the capital city and the likelihood of the CPM ditching its ally CPI reassures the UDF camp.
The Ponnani seat which paved the way for the Left’s experiments with Abdul Nasser Madani’s PDP may not yet see the red flag rising. But the party is set to cut the victory margin of the Indian Union Muslim League in a significant way.
The BJP is hoping for a miracle in Kasargode where its youthful candidate K Surendran is fighting the CPM’s P Karunakaran. The party is counting on increasing its vote share substantially this time.