Analysis | Kerala Assembly poll CPM candidates' list is an artful dodger's act

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

The CPM dropped 33 sitting legislators as it announced its 83 candidates, including nine independents, in the upcoming Kerala assembly polls.

This is seen as an apparent attempt to ward off any discontent quotient that could emerge as the party sniffs a historic second term in power in the Assembly polls slated for April 6.

The party flaunted its magnanimity of giving up its five sitting seats apart from two seats where it contested in 2016.

The CPM also seems to acknowledge that KC (M), which recently jumped ship to the LDF, is a key ally.

It has allotted 13 seats to Jose K Mani's Kerala Congress (M) which had contested in 15 seats in 2016, when it was with the United Democratic Front (UDF).

Hinting at the magnanimity of the allies as well as its own is CPM's way of assuaging the murmurs of discontent in the CPI, the second biggest ally in the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Jose K Mani
Jose K Mani

A section of the CPI is raising a banner of protest against its state secretary Kanam Rajendran for not being able to clinch the seats of its choice from the elder coalition partner.

The CPM seems to be veering around the idea that it needs to do a balancing act by keeping the CPI in good humour while at the same time acknowledging the importance of backing KC (M) to the hilt to make inroads in its strong-hold of Kottayam, a traditional UDF bastion while the KC (M) was in the UDF.

The LDF could manage to get only three each of its candidates elected from Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts in 2016.

Kanam Rajendran
Kanam Rajendran

Ironically, its Pala legislator Mani C Kappan is now the UDF candidate there, who will probably take on Jose K Mani in this fiefdom of Kerala Congress (M) stalwart late K M Mani.

So that brings its number to just two in the district and the party wants to reverse this trend and make massive gains from this district.

The LDF camp is also hopeful of tapping into the discontent in the Congress, which is seen as accommodating the Kerala Congress Joseph group “more than its perceived clout” in the Christian heartland.

There was resentment in the UDF camp when Jose K Mani was given the Rajya Sabha seat, though he later quit as RS MP after switching over to the LDF.

 Thomas Isaac, EP Jayarajan, AK Balan, G Sudhakaran
(From left to right) Thomas Isaac, EP Jayarajan, AK Balan, G Sudhakaran

The LDF hopes to make it big in Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts – considered the Christian belt – with the entry of KC(M) into its fold.

It also hopes to cash in on the discontent within certain Christian denominations over disputes relating to the Church.

The CPM also has factored in the potential loss of seats in some of the constituencies it won in the 2016 polls, due to a host of factors at play, and hence want to make up most from this belt where it did not make much gains even when it swept to power in 2016.

Two seats where the CPM is yet to make its choice are Devikulam and Manjeswaram, where linguistic minorities are a key factor.

The CPM seems to be waiting for the UDF to make known its candidates from these seats and then pick its candidates.

By dropping 33 legislators, including five ministers, the CPM hopes to negate any anti-incumbency perception which fresh faces would be able to navigate, along with nine party backed independents.

The CPM has also ignored protests that erupted in its various units in connection with the choice of candidates.

The CPM list has 48 degree holders, four candidates below 30 years, nine between 30 and 40, from the 41-50 age group 13 and 33 in the 51-60 bracket.

There are 24 candidates above 60.

Reading between the lines, the CPM is also anticipating more young candidates from the UDF camp as the Opposition embarks on a do-or-die battle to wrest power. The CPM has also dropped its prominent faces in the ministry – E P Jayarajan, A K Balan, Thomas Issac, C Raveendranath and G Sudhakaran in an apparent effort to create an aura of freshness in the list.

The move to drop five ministers also assumes significance as they held key portfolios – Industries, Law, Finance, PWD and Education. The exercise is aimed at creating the impression that the CPM would not hesitate to drop the tried and tested hands to open up new opportunities. It may also help limit any probable anti-incumbency factor, given that these are portfolios which had a direct bearing on the electorate.

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