Despite recording a resounding win in the April 6 Legislative Assembly elections, the CPM has much to worry about. The party, which reviewed the election result which helped it to retain power, has pointed at certain embarrassing setbacks, such as the third position in Palakkad, behind the Congress and BJP, and the internal revolt over candidature in Kuttiady and Ponnani.
Further, the CPM State Committee-approved election review report also found that the party's failure resulted in Kerala Congress (M) chief Jose K Mani's debacle in Pala segment.
The party is now in a course-correction mode after reviewing the political and organizational status in each district.
Excerpts from the review report on the party's performance and the political scenario in each district:
LDF won 13 of the 14 seats it contested in the district, with the CPM bagging 10. The party implemented Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's statement that the LDF would close the account of BJP (the BJP had won a seat in the 2016 elections, Nemom, in Thiruvananthapuram district). Still, the party should examine the wrong organizational approach made by some leaders in Aruvikkara. The BJP gaining strength in communist strongholds, Chirayinkeezhu and Varkala taluks, needs special attention. The BJP, for the first time, came second in Attingal. The party should examine whether pro-CPM families are supporting the BJP. The UDF increased its votes only in Nemom.
Compared to the 2016 election, the LDF votes decreased by more than 50,000 in five Assembly constituencies. The UDF, which increased its vote share in 10 segments, saw a decrease only in Punalur. The defeat at Karunagappally was partly due to our organizational constraints. There are factors affecting the organizational integrity in the district. Though this was pointed out after the polls to the local bodies, not much has changed.
The CPM can take credit for retaining the five constituencies in the district. The LDF received significant support from the minorities and backward and scheduled caste sections of the electorate. However, the dip in 9,466 votes in Adoor needs a closer examination. Though the Kerala Congress (M) candidate in Ranni was not initially acceptable, the party's strong intervention ensured an LDF win. Compared to previous elections, the district unit was more united this time.
The party gained by recapturing Aroor it had lost in the bypoll. The BJP had made inroads in certain areas, which needs attention. The party's campaign was slow during the initial days, but politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai attended meetings in all constituencies, sprucing up the campaign. In Ambalappuzha, G Sudhakaran's certain stands were against the party's interest in ensuring a win. There were constraints on extending necessary support during the campaign.
Constituency-level reports predicted the LDF to win seven segments, but the Front lost Pala and Kaduthuruthy. The party's organizational weakness was one of the reasons for the defeat of Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K Mani in Pala, and this has to be closely examined. The KC(M) joining the LDF was a major factor in the LDF's increased vote share and seats in the district. This had dented the UDF's vote bank. The LDF could not make the expected progress in the district due to organizational constraints. In some segments, the LDF did not get the votes it had received in the local body polls.
Congress could not win even a single seat in the district. In Thodupuzha, UDF's sitting seat, its votes fell by half. Winning 64 per cent of the polled votes in Udumbanchola is LDF's gain. Kerala Congress (M) joining the LDF also helped the Front. However, the generally pro-LDF atmosphere could not be used in certain Devikulam panchayats. It has to be examined.
The LDF's vote share dipped in nine of the total 14 constituencies. In five segments, the decrease was by more than 5,000 votes. The organizational weakness in the district is one of the reasons. The party has not made any progress in the district after 2015 and it has to be examined. The committees in Ernakulam and Thrikkakara did not accept the Front's Independent candidates. Twenty20 bagged the votes of both the Fronts. The debacle at Piravom by over 25,000 votes should be studied. The district leadership failed in handling the issues in Thrikkakara, Perumbavoor, Piravom and Tripunithura constituencies.
There is a shift in the pro-UDF attitude of the Christian community, and efforts should be made to bring them closer to the party. The Muslim minority voters increasedly supported the LDF. The BJP's vote share increased by 11.82 per cent in Thrissur, the district's administrative capital. Besides Thrissur, BJP's increased vote share of 22 per cent in Irinjalakuda, too, should be viewed seriously. The BJP increased its vote share in Puthukkad, Nattika and Manalur. Of the 91 booths where the BJP came first, 57 are in Thrissur city. The reasons for the loss of the sitting seat, Chalakudy, needs special scrutiny.
The BJP's increased votes and voting percentage are a serious matter. While the BJP saw an erosion of votes in all other districts, it increased its vote share only in Palakkad, where the CPM faced an embarrassing defeat. It has to be assumed that the recommendations of the previous report, which probed the party ending up third in the 2016 polls, have not been implemented. The party has lost votes which normally would have come to it. The district leadership failed in preparing an organizational mechanism even as the BJP consolidated its position in a major electoral battle.
The rally taken out in connection with the candidate in Ponnani embarrassed the party throughout the State. Since Ponnanni demanded much focus, the LDF lost some other constituencies which could have been won after a tough battle. The party should put an end to the anti-party activities in Ponnani getting repeating during elections. The comrades failed in accepting the Independent candidate in Perinthalmanna, due to their reluctance in welcoming new sections joining hands with the party.
The defeat of Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) president M V Shreyams Kumar in CPM's sitting seat, Kalpetta, needs to be closely examined. The LDF lost 8,677 votes compared to the previous polls. The decrease in votes at Meenangadi and Noolpuzha panchayats, where LDF has significant influence, should be examined. The election result reflects the UDF's strength in the district.
The Muslim minority is increasingly getting closer to the Left. The LDF witnessed a positive response in Christian-dominated areas. The open protest at Kuttiady embarrassed the LDF as a whole. RMP's K K Rema won Vadakara as part of the UDF. The LDF was expected to gain in Vadakara after the entry of LJD into the Front. It has to be examined whether there are comrades in Vadakara taluk who had stayed away even during the crucial days of the polls.
There was marked increase in LDF votes, indicating new sections of voters have favoured the Front. The district unit could not raise funds as expected to pay the allowance of cadres on election duty. It's a drawback. The party should accept the losses of Peravur and Irikkur constituencies, and work accordingly.
The Muslim minority voters favoured the LDF. The party does not have enough influence among the linguistic and religious minority groups in Kasaragod and Manjeshwar. Corrective measures should be initiated to address the organizational constraints in finding candidates in Manjeshwar. More attention should be paid to the northern region where the party doesn't have much influence.