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An expanded Left Democratic Front in Kerala

An expanded Left Democratic Front in Kerala

'Ready to Wait' is a slogan that arose in the context of the controversy over women's entry to Sabarimala. Those who argued for protecing the tradittion in Sabarimala were trying to convey the message that they (women) were ready to wait till attaining fifty years of age to ascend the sannidhaan.

Perhaps in politics, the party that will find a place in history as one prepared to wait so long in a similar manner, would be the Indian National League (INL) in Kerala. Their 25-year long wait for entry into the Left Democratic Front (LDF) came to an end on 26 December, when the LDF leadership meet decided to induct that party into the Front, together Democratic Kerala Congress, Kerala Congress-B and Loktantrik Janata Dal. Kerala is a state where coalition politics has been performing in a sound manner. It is quite long since politics here has been existing in an LDF-UDF divide. It is pretty hard for any party to survive outside of these two fronts, both of which have remained wel-fortified. One of the features of the coalition politics is that it is able to maintain an equilibrium between the different social sections and political streams. Viewed from the angle of representative value, this mechanism strengthens democracy. This also makes the fronts aware that they can win only through increasing constituent parties and enhancing representation of different sections of society. In that sense, the expansion of LDF with four new constituents will widen its popular base and appeal.

Among the new entrants, LJD and Democratic Kerala Congress were with the LDF earlier. Democratic Kerala Congress is a group that kept out when Kerala Congress (Joseh) merged into Kerala Congress-Mani group to join UDF. As for LJD, it is the new form of Janata Dal-Secular which had left LDF and joined UDF earlier, and now has come back to LDF. Kerala Congress-B contested the Assembly election on the side of LDF and won one seat. With such background, one cannot say that new parties have joined LDF. At the same time, by absorbing into the front officially those who stood with them, LDF is able to send a symbolic message – a message that they are switching to a broader stance from the earlier dogmatism. Although this will not result in adding any substantial popular base, it will help improve the image of the front. After all, an open policy is something that will only democratise any political party further.

That said about the philosophy around LDF expansion, certain other special facts cannot be ignored. Foremost among them is the question why it took LDF so long to induct the party of INL into the coalition. It is a party that has been supporting LDF like a ritual over a quarter of a century. Even when parties that had once stood with BJP could easily become part of LDF, INL's fate was to wait at the doorstep. The factor that led LDF to take such a stance was the Muslim background of that party. INL was in a way being subjected to the 'secular test', applied to any individuals and organizations with a Muslim background. And the decision now to take it in, came because it would appear unjustifiable to exclude it when other parties are inducted. In any case, INL should feel delighted by this decision. They have reason to be happy that their party, sustained through great effort and difficult, is becoming part of a major front. Even then, neither LDF in general nor CPM in particular will not be in a position to explain the reason for keeing INL out of the coalition all these years.

Although CK Janu's Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha had made a written request seeking entry into LDF, the front decided only to get their co-operation. CK Janu, who had been with the BJP earlier, left that camp only recently. Although not a party with sizeable mass backing, her party has a significance as a party representing the weakest section of the society. Accommodatding such a party would have gone more with the grain of left wing politics. Of course, Janu can be accused of the guilt of having stood with BJP till yesterday. All the same, it is easily discernible that she was constrained to take such a bad decision only by a political helplessness. If her leanings are towards left wing values, what the LDF should do is to make her part of the front before long. It can only be expected that the wrong done to INL will not be repeated in this matter.

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