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Kerala gears up for the big political battle

Last updated on: March 2, 2011 14:27 IST

Kerala gears up for the big political battle

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As Kerala is set to go for assembly polls on April 13, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front have to race against time as they are yet to finalise the seat-sharing exercise among partners and each component to work out the list of their contestants for before the filing of nominations begin on March 19.

The politburo and the central committee of the CPI-M are to meet in Delhi later this week, where some important issues would be settled, including the question if Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan should be fielded again as the captain of the LDF.

According to party sources in Thiruvananthapuram, the CC meet would decide who should lead the party and the front among the top-ranking leaders from the state, in case 87-year-old Achuthanandan is withdrawn from the electoral combat.

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Image: Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan

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The party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are the other two PB members from Kerala apart from S Ramahcnandran Pillai, who has for long been attached to the party centre.

In case 87-year-old Achuthandan either opts out or being pulled out by the party, the mantle of leadership would fall either on Vijayan or Balakrishnan.

The exercise of seat-sharing in the LDF would not be a hard task as the coalition does hot have any new ally on board, as has happened in the case of the UDF since the last assembly election.

Barring the CPI-M and the Communist Party of India, the LDF does not have any component which has an active presence throughout the state.

This would mean, according to CPI-M sources, that a large chunk of seats would go the lead partner followed by the CPI-M with other allies like Revolutionary Socialist Party, Kerala Congress (Thomas faction) and the Congress-S receiving a handful seat in their respective spheres of influence.


Image: Kerala CPI-M Secretary Pinary Vijayan
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
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Kerala gears up for the big political battle

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But the seat-sharing would not be an easy affair in the UDF, where Kerala Congress (Mani faction) is out to make a hard bargaining for more seats than it had been given last time.

KC-M leader K M Mani has backed his claim on the ground that the party's support base in the Christian heartland Central Trvanocre region has expanded with the KC (Joseph) faction merging with it about a year back.

The Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest constituent in the UDF, would also demand a couple of more seats this time on the ground that the number of the number of assembly segments has increased due to demograhpic reasons in its core political turf Malappuram in north Kerala.

The UDF has also to accommodate the Socialist Janatha-Democratic, formed by the Janata Dal faction led by former Union Minister M P Veerendrakumar, after seceding from the LDF during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Another component that has become an incurable irritant for the Congress is the Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy, led by grand old lady of Kerala politics, K R Gowry Amma, who left the CPI-M and floated her outfit some 15 years back.


Image: Kerala Congress (Mani faction) leader K M Mani

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In 2006, the LDF bagged 98 seats and the UDF 42 in the 140-member house. But the compositions of the rival coalition have changed since then with a section of the Janata Dal-Secular, Kerala Congress and an independent deserting the LDF.

A faction of the Indian National League, which supported the LDF in 2006, is also set to join the UDF by merging it with IUML.

Going by its sterling performances in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the civic elections held last year, the UDF has no reason to worry.

But the coalition is faced with, as observers term, the "problem of plenty," with even minor allies asking for more.

After finalising the seat-sharing, choosing its contestants would also be a delicate exercise for the Congress as the party has to keep regional, religious, caste and even group balances in its final list.

Congress leaders, however, exuded confidence that this is not a big issue as it is not for the first time that the party is doing this "balancing act" to satisfy all sections of the society.

That the Congress in Kerala has not been driven by any intense faction feud, as in the past, is taken as a positive factor by the leadership.

A distant third always in Kerala's bipolar polity, the Bharatiya Janata Party is putting its best efforts break its electoral jinx this time, by concentrating on a few select segments where its popular faces like former Union minister O Rajagopal will be fielded.


Image: Former Union minister and senior BJP leader O Rajagopal

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