Pinarayi vs Kuzhalnadan: Could CPM have won Sikar without Congress help?

Pinarayi Vijayan, Mathew Kuzhalnadan | File Photo: Manorama
Pinarayi Vijayan, Mathew Kuzhalnadan. Photo: Manorama

It was Congress MLA and habitual Pinarayi baiter Mathew Kuzhalnadan who fired the first salvo. "When the Chief Minister and his family was picnicking in foreign lands, Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot were busy campaigning for the hammer and sickle in Sikar," Kuzhalnadan said in the Assembly on Wednesday while taking part in the discussion on demands for grants in the budget. "It was because of their efforts that you have not lost your national status, and have been spared the ignominy of having to use  eenampechi (pangolin) or marapatti (palm civet) as your party symbol," he told his CPM compatriots.

Kuzhalnadan was referring to the huge victory of CPM candidate Amra Ram from Rajasthan's Sikar Lok Sabha constituency. Ram polled 72,896 votes more than the BJP candidate Sumedhanand Saraswathi, and secured a vote share of over 50 per cent. 

Kuzhalnadan reminded the House that in 2019 (when BJP's Saraswathi was the winner), the very same Amra Ram had a vote share of just 2.37 per cent. Then, the Congress had come second with a vote share of 35.79 per cent. "The name of the man who gifted the Sikar seat to you is Rahul Gandhi," he said.

Kuzhalnadan was trying to get back at the Chief Minister for his insulting comments against Gandhi during the campaign.
"At a time when all leaders, even when they were competing with the Congress at the state level, backed Rahul Gandhi, there was just one person who went all out to attack him," Kuzhalnadan said, and after a dramatic momentary pause, added: "Unfortunately this leader was Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan."

When it was his turn to speak, Pinarayi quickly swatted aside the Gandhi question. "It was unbecoming of a leader of Rahul Gandhi's stature to suggest that the Chief Minister of Kerala should be arrested. It was only natural that I responded to it," he said.

Pinarayi then set about the task of dismantling the Congress's Sikar claims. Marshalling election figures, he sought to establish that Amra Ram and the CPM were already forces to reckon with in the constituency. "Sikar is the place where the historic farmers' agitation had taken place and Amra Ram was one of the most prominent leaders of the struggle," Pinarayi said. Amra Ram is the Rajasthan state secretary of the CPM, and is a central committee member of the party.
"He has been elected to the Rajasthan Assembly four times," Pinarayi said. Amra Ram was elected from Dhod (an Assembly segment within Sikar Lok Sabha) three times consecutively - 1993, 1998 and 2003 - and once from Danta Ramgarh (another Assembly segment under Sikar) in 2008. These facts were placed to throw light on the CPM's influence in Sikar.

The Chief Minister also said that the CPM had consistently maintained a 30 per cent vote share in the Dhod Assembly as opposed to the Congress that saw its vote share plummeting by nearly 20 per cent in the 2023 Assembly polls. 

The CPM had a decisive presence in yet another Assembly segment within Sikar: Dante Ramgarh. The CPM was third in 2023, 2018 and 2013 Assembly polls; its vote share increasing from 18.23 per cent in 2013 to 23.95 per cent in 2018 but falling dramatically to below 10 per cent in 2023. In these three instances, Amra Ram was the CPM candidate. This was a seat Amra Ram had won from the Congress in 2008 with nearly 35 per cent of the votes.

Fact is, something that the CM conveniently left out, except in Dhod and Danta Ramgarh, the CPM is not a major force in the rest of Sikar. In the other six Assembly segments under Sikar - Lachhmangarh, Sikar, Khandela, Neem Ka Thana, Srimadhopur and Chomu - the CPM is virtually non-existent. Of these, four - Lachhmangarh, Sikar, Neema Ka Thana and Chomu - are held by the Congress, and Khandela and Srimadhopur are sitting seats of the BJP. The two seats where the CPM has a sizable presence are held by the Congress (Danta Ramgarh) and the BJP (Dhod).

In addition to Kuzhalnadan, other Congress leaders like Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and M Vincent also wanted to know why the Chief Minister opted to travel abroad instead of campaigning in Sikar for CPM's CC member Amra Ram. Pinarayi ignored the question.

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