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Vijayan may come out unscathed from Left poll rout fire


Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, here on Saturday, broke his silence and told those asking for his resignation after the Left Democratic Front's (LDF) Lok Sabha polls debacle in the state that it was not a verdict against his government and therefore there was no question of him stepping down.

"This defeat was not expected and we see this only as a temporary setback. This verdict is not against our government and the question of stepping down does not arise," Vijayan told reporters.

The Chief Minister has mostly kept away from the media glare, since the Left's poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. 

Of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led LDF won just one (Alappuzha) -- down from eight seats in the outgoing Lok Sabha -- and that too by a slender margin. While the Congress-led UDF romped home with the rest 19 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to open account.

The Left's rout came before the 75th birthday of Vijayan, who led the Lok Sabha poll battle with tall claims of winning as many as 18 seats.

The CPI-M State Committee will meet for two days later this month to discuss the poll debacle.

However, given Vijayan's strong hold on the party, there is no one to even initiate a talk on whether it should look for an alternative to him.

As the longest-serving secretary of the Kerala CPI-M State Committee from 1998 to 2015, Vijayan has used his position to become the be all and end all of the party.

Traditionally, the CPI-M State Secretary always prevailed upon its Chief Minister, but Vijayan carried on unquestioned even when he became the Chief Minister given his iron-like grip on the party.

The only one, who can challenge Vijayan at the moment is party veteran Achuthanandan, but at 95 he has little support from the ranks.

Even in his prime, he had to play the second fiddle to Vijayan. At the height of the feud between the two in 2007, when both were suspended from the CPI-M Politburo, only Vijayan was taken back. Achuthanandan could never return to the party's highest body.

Vijayan knows if he quits as the Chief Minister, it would be curtains for his political career, as age is fast catching up with him and he also has health issues.

But the first signs, that his position was safe, came when State Secretary Balakrishnan defended him the day the results came and reiterated on Saturday that every time the Left suffered a setback, it bounced back stronger.

He said the party would introspect on its failure later this month, but maintained a stoic silence on whether there should be a change in the team's captain.

With none to bell the cat, Vijayan's position appears safe for now.



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