CPM for corrective measures after Thrikkakara debacle

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM will closely examine the defeat at Thrikkakara bypoll both politically and at the organisational level after preliminary discussions gave rise to the suspicion that the party had failed at both levels.

The CPM leaders were confident till the last moment that it would win Thrikkakara, considered to be an impregnable Congress fort. But as the counting progressed, the party's hopes were shattered.

The CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan did not attempt to list out justifications for the defeat. Instead, he said the party would move forward with added caution and take corrective steps. Balakrishnan's statement reflected the CPM's understanding of the impact of the defeat of its candidate.

The wide victory margin that UDF's Uma Thomas won over CPM's Dr Jo Joseph would make the LDF government be more cautious regarding controversial development projects such as the SilverLine. The murmurs of dissatisfaction being heard within the party would force the CPM leadership to examine the nomination of Dr Joseph, and the manner in which he was presented before the electorate.

The CPM, however, take solace in the fact that Dr Joseph garnered 2,224 votes more than the LDF-backed independent candidate Dr Joe Jacob in the previous poll. The CPM had in 2021 initiated a probe into the leak in its vote bank, which apparently helped Twenty20 and the UDF.

The flip side, however, is that despite the probe and corrective measures, the high-octane LDF poll campaign focused on one single constituency led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the party State secretary could win merely 2,000 more votes.

The CPM's intention was to eat into the Congress vote bank and thereby reduce its margin, and if possible, script a surprise win at Thrikkakara. But UDF's majority increased by 10,777, and the Front, which had never touched the 70,000-vote mark, zoomed past the milestone. LDF had a majority in 10 booths.

A section of the CPM district leadership had backed DYFI leader Arun Kumar as the candidate, but the state leadership opted for Dr Joseph, a decision that would be under scrutiny now. Instead of introducing the candidate at the district committee office, the CPM announced its decision at the hospital where the candidate has been working. The move did not yield the desired result as the minority voters did not back the party as expected.

A preliminary post-poll review hinted that CPM did not get the expected votes. The party, which had won 49,455 votes in Thrikkakara in 2016, expected to garner at least 55,000 votes in the by-election. The defeat also laid bare the fact that all was not well in the party's Ernakulam unit.

A section of leaders had been opposed to the campaign that LDF would win the UDF's strong seat. But the party went with the view of the opposing section which claimed that a candidate appealing to voters beyond political affiliations, and the party's sure votes would help the LDF win Thrikkakara.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's response post the poll result was that the government "would go ahead with the SilverLine plan once it gets the approval." Notable, the chief minister did not refer to the controversial project during the LDF government's first anniversary celebrations on the eve of counting. Party leaders opined that though CPM would reject the news that the party would reconsider the project, it would consider the wide public protests against the project.

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