Home Minister Mr. Ramesh Chennitala expressed it right when he accepted BJP is a force in Kerala. A party which was insignificant in the bipolar polity of Kerala has become a force to reckon with. Let us have more discussion on this.
BJP’s rise as a major force is the result of growing disenchantment of Nair community which was with the Congress in the last two decades. The community which is strong numerically as well as in social ladder was a vote bank of Congress during the time of K Karunakaran who made every effort to nurture the community. The policy of appeasement pursued by late chief minister Mr. K Karunakaran kept BJP as a fringe player in the Kerala politics. On the other hand, a section of the poor among the Nair community who maintained an ideological stance remained as a part and parcel of LDF for decades together. It is this set up is being shaken in Kerala that reshapes the contours of Kerala politics.
Everyone is interested in knowing the future. The ruling party UDF worries about its future in the bipolar Kerala polity where people elect fronts by turns. According to this hypothesis, LDF is all set to storm back to power in the 2016 assembly elections. Does this mean that LDF is free from worries? Comrade Pinarai Vijayan, the would be chief minister fears the legislative party leader Mr. VS Achutanandan, who will not forgive his supporters being axed from the party. VS being a person known for settling scores is likely to pitch for a compromise candidate to scuttle the chances of Mr. Pinarai Vijayan.
If this is the case with two leading fronts, BJP too has its cup of worries. The forthcoming assembly election 2016 is going to be crucial for BJP to show that it will have a good number of elected members in the assembly to occupy the center stage. If not party’s condition will be like that of AAP in Kerala which became a fringe player. BJP knows its strength. The party has successfully made inroads into the Nair community in the last decade. By using the SNDP network the party hopes it can swing a sizeable chunk of Ezhava voters to its kitty. Leaving nothing to chance, BJP is also willing to ally with Kerala Congress which is bitter with the Congress for not helping the party chief Mr. K.M. Mani from liquor scam.
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi was in Kerala to take advantage of the anti-incumbency factor of the UDF. He was successful in drawing crowds as well as enthusing the party rank and file. To win any battle the leader has to instill confidence among his supporters. Mr. Modi scored well in this aspect. But can this alone work? It is in this area we need to think laterally.
To understand more about Kerala politics one should take a look at two leading fronts in Kerala. Let us take UDF first. The UDF is born out of opposition to the communist movement in Kerala. Then the question will come, who are all opposed to communist movement in Kerala? Yes, there is a powerful lobby against communist movement. Let us examine them one by one:
First, the church which sees Marxist ideals against the tenets of the religion. The church wants its flock in its orbit. Communism is basically against religion and churches suffered in erstwhile communist nations. The Marxists pose an existential threat to the church and the church wants to stop LDF from coming to power.
Second, the Muslim leaders who see Marxian contrary to Islam. Islam doesn’t want its faithful to believe in any other doctrine other than Allah. The creamy layer of the Muslim League the forward caste converts look at the Left with suspicion as Leftist ideology always vies for eliminating Muslim League as a political entity. Readers should remember the writings of late Comrade E.M.S Namboodirippad who advocated the dissolution of Muslim League in Kerala.
Third, the farm lobby who lost their land to serfs. They are scattered in all parties in the UDF. Of course, there is powerful Kerala Congress which comprises the farm lobby or assiduously nurtured by the Kerala Congress leadership. The prospect of a Left front coming to power, their erstwhile plantation workers, is sure to unnerve them.
Fourth, the general middle-class people who view the Left as obstructionists or anti-development. Their chief grouse is against labor militancy which is a bane of Kerala for decades. Besides, the middle-class populace also sees Left as a party of violence. They esteem leaders like late Mr. K. Karunakaran and Mr. Ommen Chandy as powerful leaders who have the will to keep the CPM orchestrated politics of violence in check.
Looking from different angles we can see a powerful lobby against the LDF which comprises the lower middle-class segment from the majority and minority communities. Large sections of Ezhavas, SCs, and STs who are the working class coupled with intellectuals are their core support base. It is this vote bank being threatened by the growth of BJP.
BJP’s gain is the loss of LDF which was witnessed in Aruvikkara by-elections. But even then coming to power requires more support taking along more sections of the society. If the BJP is successful in weaning popular leaders like Mr. V.M. Sudheeran, Mr. Ramesh Chennitala, and Kerala Congress, the party has a fair chance of success as this will turn the swing votes in BJP’s favor.
But if the BJP is not successful, things are going to be unpredictable as leaders like Mr. Ommen Chandy, Mr. V.M. Sudheeran, Mr. Ramesh Chennitala has good support at the grass root level to keep BJP at bay from power politics.Herein lies the wisdom. The votes are either for LDF or any front that can take on LDF powerfully. To come to power, a party requires the votes of Christians as well as Muslims in their favor. It is in this area the BJP is facing an uphill task.
Because of these stronger reasons, the ruling UDF has a fair chance than growing BJP to seek another verdict in Kerala. But this should come with restructuring the front with the addition of a few and deletion of one. What does this mean? People of Kerala are little bothered about scandal against UDF. It has to be remembered that during the thick of the scam only Mr. Sabarinathan won the Aruvikkara by-elections. To the majority community in Kerala, the prominence given to Muslim League is a major concern. Then comes the middle-class disenchantment with politics of violence perpetrated by CPM against their rivals. Followed by that is the projection of Comrade Pinarai Vijayan as CM which will not be digested by the erstwhile VS supporters who were axed by the party. Most of them are with the BJP now.
Kerala has a traditional left mind. In politics, there is no 100% left or right. Every political party has their left as well as right supporters. For example, Mr. K.N. Govindacharya is against globalization and stands for protectionism, hence left. So is Mr. Swaminathan Gurumurthy a leading light of RSS. UDF has V.M. Sudheeran and A.K. Antony who are left oriented (Nehruvian Socialists). In such a scenario, if UDF can scrap ties with Muslim League and absorb CPI and smaller Left players, it can attract anti-CPM votes, left votes, and majority votes which are veering towards BJP. Yes, UDF has a future, it lies in restructuring the front if they want to stop LDF from coming to power.