Opinion | Divisive KC (M) is LDF's delight, rude jolt for UDF's prospects in Kerala

Opinion | Divisive KC (M) is LDF's delight, rude jolt for UDF's prospects in Kerala
PJ Joseph and Jose K Mani.
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The simmering differences in the Kerala Congress (M) could not have come at a more inopportune time for the opposition United Democratic Front.

The opposition front seems to have been running out of ideas to win back its mojo ahead of the upcoming local body polls, which would be a curtain raiser for the Assembly polls slated early next year.

It is near certain that the UDF will be seen as a divided house by the electorate as it exhumes the ghosts of intra-party and intra-front factionalism time and again.

This cannot be seen as a development that will have its impact in the six seats held by rival factions of the KC (M) in the 2016 assembly polls when the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) won hands down.

A divisive KC (M) would dent the fortunes of the UDF in the Christian heartland constituencies. This means it would sway the electoral fortunes of not only the bickering factions of the KC (M) but also the UDF candidates in the region.

For an opposition already at its wit's end in the political terrain of the state, this is a massive blow.

The UDF is already seen as playing a catching up game against the ruling LDF, which is seen as tackling the COVID-19 pandemic situation effectively.

So for such an opposition, a split in the vote base means its chances of catching up with the LDF gets dented further.

Or in other words, it has been dragged a few notches down in a race in which the LDF seems to inch ahead, shedding the usual notion of anti-incumbency, especially in a poll-bound scenario.

Regardless of the merit of the arguments of Jose and Joseph factions of the KC (M) in claiming the legacy of late party patriarch K M Mani, this is a blow for the UDF.

It has too little time to now to stitch up alliances. No one from the LDF is keen to crossover to the opposition camp as the ruling front is upbeat about its prospects.

On the contrary, one of the options for the Jose K Mani faction is to cross over to the LDF.

Whether it materialises or not, this sort of a talk has been doing the rounds of late.

The LDF can now dictate terms or in other words accommodate the Jose faction without giving it much leeway in seat allocation.

Because, the options before the Jose faction seems to be dwindling.

It cannot stay afloat on its own. Remember it lost the Pala seat, held for time immemorial by KM Mani himself, in the bypoll necessitated by his demise.

It risks losing its backing among predominantly Christian sympathisers if it dabbles with the idea of flirting with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

It has two MPs – one elected to Lok Sabha under the UDF banner and the other – Jose K Mani himself, who adorns the Rajya Sabha by virtue of a UDF ticket.

So, the most politically feasible option for it is to piggyback on the LDF and wait for its opportunities.

That thought in itself has to be at the mercy of the LDF.

The LDF would have to decide whether it wants a divided KC (M) or to bolster its fold by including a faction.

Which of these options it picks would be purely a political call, but either way it is gaining from these late explosion of faction feuds within a key UDF constituent.

Kerala assembly polls will be held in less than a year and political perception can still change.

Now, another challenge the government is keenly anticipating is also not a political one. The government, which is directing all its resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, is also keeping an eye on the vagaries of nature, which had wreaked havoc in two previous years in the form of floods.

In such a scenario, it can still fumble and the UDF can still make political gains out of it.

But the point is that is not a political challenge.

Read it in another way: The UDF has failed to pose a political challenge to the CPM-led dispensation governing the state.

So only natural calamities and their possible inept handling by the government would give UDF a faint hope to foresee a comeback to power.

And then it can also harp on the change of guard in the state which has happened every five years.

But then banking on historical or empirical evidence can be too dicey in the changing political paradigm of our times.

So while it is too early to bet for an LDF comeback in assembly polls, there is little evidence to suggest that the UDF is packaging itself as a potential ruling coalition waiting to grab the mantle.

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