Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When the Chicken Came Home to Roost: Electoral Defeat for LDF and its Implications

NOW THAT the LDF in Kerala and the left forces all over India, except in Tripura, had to face one of the severest electoral setbacks in recent history, parties and concerned citizens and political pundits are busy discussing what went wrong. There are mutual recriminations and blame games, which unfortunately do not throw much light on why such a defeat and whether it was inevitable.

The politburo of the CPM, the other day, came out with a statement which said its election-eve move for a third front was not accepted by the people, indeed it was seen as a non-starter. But a serious and more nuanced self-critical assessment would have to be made and it should come only after the meetings of the central committee and the various state units of CPM including that of West Bengal and Kerala.

But the situation in Kerala was more or less evident to any independent and impartial observers and if you check my earlier posts here, you would see that I had explained the strategy of CPM in Kerala was proving to be a big failure, and that their moves to cut into Muslim votes were actually working against their interests, helping only to consolidate minority votes in the state.

Now the question is, whether these electoral moves launched by the official group in Kerala CPM, in spite of reservations within the party and the left front, were such an innocuous effort or was it part of a long-term agenda?

I think so. They were not done in good faith. There was a hidden agenda behind them and it simply failed, or was defeated by party ranks themselves. That seems to be the truth.

Here are my main points:

1. Why did Madani and Raman Pillai got the special attention from official left as they did this time? Was it an aberration or the manifestation of a process of transition in left politics or was it part of a strategy that would mean a major change in left politics as we have seen in the past?

2. It would appear that the calls for widening the mass base of the left forces, in Kerala, were made with a clear agenda. It would mean the sidelining of the traditional left parties, which some people have been describing as bereft of mass base any longer, and bring in new forces in their stead. Hence what we have seen in Kerala is a deliberate attempt to demolish the 30- year old LDF and build a new dispensation.

3. Who are the new forces to take their place in the new front envisaged by the official left? Think back to the 2006 Assembly poll and you will know who they are:
They are mainly the disgruntled elements at odds with the UDF like K Muralidharan and his DIC (now NCP), fortune-seekers like Madani and Raman Pillai, and the retrograde and compromised people like Kanthapruam. If possible they would have been happy to bring in godmen and women like Amritananda Mayi as we saw left ministers making a beeline there.

4. Why they are special and useful? First, they are career politicians who would not nitpick on policy. A decent agreement on sharing of spoils would keep them happy. Karunakaran was the best example of this line in politics. He was successful for three decades this way.

5. The CPM has undergone deep internal transition by way of its cadres and class basis. It is no longer a working class party. The new middle class leadership want to implement their new line of politics that would benefit their class, and they find better models in the right-wing, like Karunakaran, and this time made an effort to practice it here. With disastrous results, as we can all see. Now I hope the Governor would allow the law to take its own course and CBI would go ahead with the SNC Lavalin case and show the left leaders how democracy works (at least outside Kannur.)


peethan Abhilash said...


I do recollect your prediction (in earlier post ) based on ground analysis reports that CPM may loose even its own cadres votes.

Here official group were trying emulate EMS style of strategic experiment(1984 ?) . Difference is in 1984 Leaders has always deep rooted mass contacts (hence party could overcome GowriAmma and MVR etc) while new leadership (including Delhi PB's) hardly got peoples(even cadre) contacts. Election Results were answer for the sheer arrogance of CPM. I wish to recollect now how Amartya Sen described as "Blunder" when CPM came out from UPA on Nuclear Issue.. and Vijayan Master said "Party will be there with you but not people"..



Unknown said...

Thanks, Abhilash, for your wise comments. But I feel no wise counsel would prevail on the powers that be in the CPM tody.

N P Chekkutty.

Unknown said...

there s not much to think over to find d reasons of the failure of the left front in the recent elections.none of the media supported them other than their own.everyone showed d sole motive of bringin them the last minute even the SNDP swayed in their stand.still they managed four seats.the case of calicut was a close shave for the UDF.moreover the backstage plays of BJP is also well known to all.there is no point in celebratin the election results of this year.jus think of the situation of the UDF in the 2004 elections...and what is the logic behind this whole pinarayi-lavlin link ups?y is noone concerned abt the then minister who finalised the project?that itself shows the cheap vested interests of those who still discuss d age old issue while there is much more topics in our state which needs urgent attention....the media shud kindly divert their attention to d real duties n obligation they have towards the society n public at large

Unknown said...


Thanks for the comment. I am happy about your concerns for better governance.

But in a democracy, accountability is paramount. It might look chaotic, but democracy and rule of law is the only way for the world to move ahead. If there is a corruption charge, may be a trumped up one, the only recourse left is to face it in a court of law. There is no short cut here.

peethan Abhilash said...

Currently based based in US, I gather the news and under currents of Kerala, just by reading online news papers and my favorite blogs like chespeak...
A lay man like me,who absolutely does not keep any soft corners to Congress or BJP, had strong feelings of on happenings of Kerala especially with CPM.

Saying so, I have to disagree to Lakshmi here.

Real Issues were :
- Why all medias were against them, how did that happened ?
- Media alone can influnce a little, remember the fate of TDP and BJP (India Shine ) election days .Had media is the factor then it would have been different picture then.
- You know media is against you and still a close confident like Verendra Kumar,was treated shabilly ..This is utter arrogance ..
- Ignoring the factor of introducing Madani and Raman Pillai and that too with not taking your partners into confidence- mattered heavily.
- Lavlin was a factor and best way Vijayan could have doen was to just respect Law. And a parellel information/clarification process he could have initiated for people and party cadres,
if he feels so, his conscience is clear in the case. (Joseph came back to front page of all medias recently - though I am not sure of details of the same..)

You are feeding media with your own action and calling Media as culprit.
Also, calling SNDP, BJP as foul players etc are old cards.Even own cadres were not with CPM ..then why balame others ..! (And why should you blame them ,btb..)

Bagging 4 seats is not the big event, but loosing your sure seats..! Yes it is a big deal..

It is like Wimbledon - gaining titile is not big deal..keeping the title for ever is - yes much hard work has to be done.!!


Unknown said...

i'm just another belonging to the common-folk not a member of any party but quite sure of my hate for the BJP n the allied forces...all i expressed was the conclusions arrived at by observing the 'developments' around me..i dont think any party shud bargain with their individuality to accomodate someone like veerendra kumar.ignorin him was not an act of arrogance,but an expected consequence for his unacceptable foolish demands.(moreover he showed his true colors once he was out!).madani who was till then hailed n sympathised by the media for fallin prey to the blind mind of judiciary(as per the holy media)suddenly turned a villian to the same media!(how come?also can someone reply me for god's sake where this madani issue has vanished all of a sudden after the elections?is it tht our media has this fate of 'instant memory loss'-thnx to ghajini....)coming to lavlin issue,its the CBI who insist on this whole legal thing...y s it very well forgotten by the same honest media tht its the same CBI who felt jagdish tytlr to b innocent just b4 elections and also relieved mulayam singh from all his charges d moment he joined UPA?...........i'm not a die-hard follower of any party n dont wish to b tagged as belonging to one party.still i strongly wish to inform those ppl out there who bring news to us tht,v students r observing the hypocrisy happening out there n also tht v wont blindly believe or gulp wht they try to feed us....felt all dis by getting fed up of a 100 perspectives of the same issu by 100 newspapers n noone seems to b keen to feed this poor reader with an original or rather neutral view of any incident.

peethan Abhilash said...

Hi Lakshmi,

Appreciate your keen observations.

Core point,I have raised was CPM lost its own votes- and why so happened.They had a bad results in WB too. CPM need to ponder.

Role of media,has to be still debated. I feel, Che Sir would be the right person to do so-to an extend he has blogged on the same. However would like to have his views on the note, Lakshmi has raised. How did media treated Madani during his jail years and pre-poll scenarios. Does media suffers from selective amnesia (it does definitely) when it comes to Madani..?


Unknown said...

Dear Abhilash & Lakshmi,

It is a wonderful experience to listen to critical views, especially from young people. I am thankful to you for the bold and frank comments.

But I thought no sensible person ever put all her/his eggs in one basket. Same is the case with media. People come to their own conclusions based on their reading, experience, observations and rational choice. Media often tries to go beyond the limits of reason and makes itself a laughing stock. I had written about it only last week and I am sure we will have to keep talking about it again and again.