Kerala’s rival fronts equally confident of victory


Thiruvananthapuram : It is a state where the most minor swing can reverse electoral fortunes. No wonder, both coalitions in Kerala are claiming victory in the Lok Sabha elections.

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With barely 10 days to go for the balloting, both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) insist they have the edge in the 20 Lok Sabha seats in contention.

The only thing everyone appears to agree is that there will be no repeat of the 2004 verdict when the LDF, headed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), won 19 seats, leaving just one for the Congress-led UDF.

But after five years, pundits and political activists agree that there are anti-establishment feelings among voters. That could derail the Marxists.

S.R. Sakthidaran, a former assistant editor of the CPI-M publication “Deshabhimani” and now head of the Kerala Press Academy, doesn’t agree. He argues that the LDF is bound to put up a good performance.

“We are confident we will get a minimum of 14 seats. What you see in the cities is not the real picture. This is because the three years of our governance (in the state) have benefited those in rural areas,” he said.

A CPI-M minister predicted that the LDF would win 12 seats for sure. “Believe me, we expected the elections to be a bit more tough, so we are happy,” he told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Congress leader Rajmohan Unnithan, who claims to have addressed 130 public meetings, sees a pro-UDF mood.

“Don’t forget there are undercurrents, which are very strong in certain constituencies where the UDF has a good chance of winning,” he said.

Five-time legislator P.C. George’s Kerala Congress (Secular) began as an associate of the Left government in 2006, but is with the Congress-led UDF now. He is predicting gloom for the Left.

“I expect 15 seats for UDF. I have been campaigning in Pathanamitta, Kottayam and Idukki constituencies which UDF will surely win,” he said.

The 24 percent Muslim population of Kerala is likely to be split, providing some cheer to LDF.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Abdul Nasir Maudany is supporting the LDF. The Jamaat-e-Islami has also indicated that it would back the LDF in 18 of the 20 constituencies.

Vellapally Natesan, chief of the Sree Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam, the social movement of the Ezhava community, says it has become extremely difficult to predict the tally of seats.

“But with what I have gathered, I would say that both fronts would get 10 seats each,” said Natesan.

According to election watchers, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is contesting all the 20 seats, is likely to finish third in most places like in 2004.