Considering the outright rejection of Congress and UPA across India, chief minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president V M Sudheeran can console themselves for avoiding a rout and keeping the party intact in the state. The Congress had to battle anti-incumbency both at the Centre and state.
The fact that UPA’s six ministers from the state, five of them Congressmen, in the fray – Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), K V Thomas (Ernakulam), K C Venugopal (Alappuzha), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikkara), Mullapally Ramachandran (Vadakara) and E Ahamed (Malappuram) – have won is important.
What saved the day for Chandy, who had turned this election into a referendum on the performance of his government, was the fear of Narendra Modi among minorities and the anti-incumbency mood against CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan (who is leading the party since 1998) among non-partisan voters.
Despite winning an additional seat (LDF has won four seats more) compared to 2009, for the CPM the results have come as a dampener since it reveals the party’s inability to turn the nationwide anti-UPA mood into votes. Remember, CPM lost Vadakara, despite a ‘faction-less’ party and V S Achuthanandan’s new-found bonhomie with Vijayan.
It’s clear that UDF received the support of Christian and Muslim communities apart from retaining its goodwill among upper caste Hindus. But Chandy would do well to remember that the minority support comes with a caveat — defeats in Kannur, Idukki, Chalakudy and Thrissur prove they can be tough bargainers.
The big message is, however, that Modi’s version of Hindutva is ready to swamp the state’s traditional Hindu parties – CPM and CPI.
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