The Oommen Chandy government and the UDF have been optimistic about the three-tier Panchayat-Municipality polls in Kerala the outcome of which is expected to play a crucial role in the state Assembly election to be held next year.
UDF had been expecting the BJP to score at the expense of LDF anticipating the downfall of LDF that would result from the budding ties between the SNDP and the BJP. But the civic poll results that came out on Saturday proved that all the calculations of the UDF misfired with the Opposition showing signs of a powerful comeback and the BJP putting up a not-so-bad performance. The UDF and its allies shocked by the unexpected jolt are busy mulling over the reasons for the failure and taking steps to tackle it. Whatever the analysis and decisions evolved in the meeting, political analysts have managed to comprehend certain realities. While the Left Front and the CPM managed to resolve the disputes between them to an extent, the factional discords and the ‘dissidents factor’ between the UDF and its main ally Congress had been continuing till the last moment. The final attempt made by the first and the second parties in resolving the open conflict between them in Malappuram district which is believed to a UDF stronghold also went futile. The internal conflicts cut short the chances of victory for the Front. In Kondotty Municipality, the ruling coalition formed a Front with the Opposition. The dissidents conquering the scene also ceased to be an unusual sight. The optimism as well as the propaganda of the Congress-Muslim League that the vote erosion towards the Fascist forces would only be from the LDF also failed them.
BJP emerging as the second largest party in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation pushing the Congress to the third place and also in Kozhikode and Palakkad, where the party ‘snatched’ the Congress votes are prime evidences for that. At the same time, the results also show that the LDF who entered the election campaign with Fascist agenda like the beef ban, the slaughtering of innocents in the name of cow protection and murder of Dalits as the main subject, secured voted from the minority areas. The Congress who had always claimed to be the lone protector of the minorities, failed to take effective steps to tackle the tragedies or impart new hopes. A large section of the elites also shifted allegiance from the Congress to the BJP seeing the growth of the party. Another significant reason was the common man strongly reacting against corruption that engulfed the local self governments under the UDF. The people, when they got a chance, taught a lesson to the Panchayat-Municipality office bearers who shamelessly misused the funds, were biased and helped the sand quarry mafia. However, the fact that the attainment of power at the national level, Modi’s blabbering about development and the relations with the caste outfits have led the saffron forces forward cannot be neglected. Not just the UDF, but the LDF, Dalit backward classes and the minority communities also equally face the crisis. These realizations which played a role in the victory of the LDF have also paved way for the political presence of the minority outfits other than Muslim League that cannot be neglected. Only a collective effort by the secularist forces following the Bihar model can accomplish the concept of secularism in the country.