History repeats in God’s own country

The chief minister designate Pinarayi Vijayan with former CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat
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As Communists-led Left Democratic Front under Pinarayi Vijayan returns to power on May 26, history repeats in God’s own country ….Sanu George 

The chief minister designate Pinarayi Vijayan with former CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat
The chief minister designate Pinarayi Vijayan with former CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat

Pinarayi Vijayan would be sworn-in as Kerala’s 22nd chief minister on May 25, in the state capital .

The CPI-M led Left Democratic Front (LDF) won the polls on Thursday by winning 91 seats in the 140 member Kerala Assembly.

The date was confirmed by Vijayan on Saturday meeting veteran party colleague V.S.Achuthanandan along with CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

” He (Achuthanandan) has been a chief minister from our party in the past and hence came to meet him. As things stand now, we have decided to have the swearing-in of the new government on Wednesday (May 25) at the Central Stadium, in Trivandrum,” said Vijayan. “Discussions have begun on finalising the ministers in our party and in the coming days, the list will be ready,” he added.

Vijayan was elected to lead his party at a meeting of his party leadership on Friday.

History Repeats

It’s a repeat of history in Kerala, with the incumbent government being again voted out. Unlike Didi in Bengal and Amma in Tamil Nadu, Congress veteran Oommen Chandy could not avoid a rout in God’s own country.

The victorious Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 91 seats in Kerala assembly, while the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had to remain satisfied with just 47 seats in the 140-member assembly.  The Bharatiya Janata Party should be pretty happy because it has finally managed to open its account in the state, which has traditionally opted either for the Left- or the Congress-led formations.

However, it’s also true that despite the efforts of top BJP leadership, including party president Amit Shah, the BJP could bag only one seat in the shape of O. Rajagopal.

While post-poll trends had indicated that the Congress would lose in Kerala, the party leadership was confident that it would retain power. But that was not to be.

Chandy himself may have won from the Puthupally constituency, but his party had to bite the dust.  But why did the Congress fare so badly?

The Congress-led UDF government was battling many factors — from corruption allegations of solar scam and bar bribery, to an aggressive opposition which spared no efforts to put the Chandy dispensation in the dock. In the face of it all, the Congress could not put up a credible defence.

Ahead of the assembly election, the UDF government got embroiled in a controversy over land allotment. The Left parties were constantly vociferous in raising the issue which certainly impacted collective public consciousness.

While the decision on land allotment was reversed, the Chandy government could not escape the media’s microscope, pushing the Congress even further on the edge.

It also seems that the Congress had hoped that the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ally the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) of Hindu Ezhava leader Velapally Natesan would eat into the vote bank of the Left in about a dozen seats. However, this was nothing but a miscalculation.

Moreover, the UDF government failed to come up with a pragmatic liquor policy and the selection of Congress candidates was flawed.

So, what lies ahead for a battered Congress which doesn’t have much to do except lick its wounds?

Observers pointed out that daggers would be out soon to target outgoing chief minister Chandy and Congress state chief V.M. Sudheeran. There could be a change in the state leadership as well, observers said. But for the next five years, the Congress will have to remain satisfied with playing the role of opposition.

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