Landslide win for Left in Kerala, BJP opens account

Rajat Kain

keralaCPI (M)-led LDF came back in Kerala winning nearly 2/3rd of seats in a 140-member assembly. While the results were on expected lines as no party has got a second term since 1980, the outgoing UDF suffered embarrassment with some of its ministers and key state leaders loosing.

The assembly election results, however, gave BJP a reason to rejoice as it won a seat in the southernmost state first time in a history. Veteran leader and former Union minister O Rajagopal won from Nemom.

Outgoing Chief Minister Oommen Chandy won from Puthupally for 12th time, while opposition leader and CPI (M) veteran VS Achuthanandan won by 23,142 votes in Malampuzha. The 92-year old leader is also front-runner for Chief Ministerial post.

In the run-up to polls, Oommen Chandy government had faced cloud of charges from bar bribery case to solar scam with even the 72-year-old chief minister facing severe personal allegations.

Kozhikode: LDF workers dance in rains as they celebrate their victory in the assembly elections in Kozhikode. Photo - PTI

Kozhikode: LDF workers dance in rains as they celebrate their victory in the assembly elections in Kozhikode.
Photo – PTI

Chandy had wrested his hopes on the alcohol prohibition policy, which was tipped to be popular among the women voters. That, however, has to be seen once the thorough analysis is out. But the beating its image took due to the corruption issue seems to have impacted its performance.

“No doubt it is an unexpected verdict. We didn’t expect such a defeat. Both party and the UDF have responsibility in the defeat. I have more responsibility because I am the chairman of the front,” a visibly upset Chandy said.

Asked whether the party’s decision to give tickets to the tainted ministers had backfired, the outgoing CM said “I don’t think so. But we will meet and discuss (the defeat) at party level and UDF level”.

On the other hand, defying apprehensions of any impact on its tally due to the entry of third force in the shape of BJP-led NDA, the LDF gave a much needed cheer to the Left front. Crossing over 90 seats, the front has begun zero-in on its Chief Minister.

Thiruvananthapuram : BJP's winning candidate from Nemom constituency O Rajagopal is offered sweets by party leaders in Thiruvananthapuram, May 19, 2016.  Photo - PTI

Thiruvananthapuram : BJP’s winning candidate from Nemom constituency O Rajagopal is offered sweets by party leaders in Thiruvananthapuram, May 19, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Party stalwart VS Achuthanandan and politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan are the top contenders. The CPI (M) is expected to meet later this week to elect its legislature party leader.

“As the major partner in the alliance, CPI(M) would take a decision on it. They would communicate it to other partners, including us, and then we would take a joint decision,” CPI Kerala Secretary Kanam Rajendran told the press in response to a question on who will be the next chief minister.

But perhaps the most noteworthy highlight of these polls happens to be opening of an account by the BJP. 86-year-old O Rajagopal’s victory in Nemom also confirmed the consolidation of BJP’s vote share which remained over 10%.

BJP’s performance in these elections was keenly followed given its alliance with Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), political wing of Ezhava community’s social organisation SNDP, which won near 4% vote share.