Dimensions of people's verdicttext_fields
When the by-election was declared in the Thrikkakara constituency following the demise of P.T Thomas, it was not anticipated that it would assume significance to the extent it gained later. For the UDF, the significance of victory or defeat would be limited to the gain and loss of one sitting seat. But if the other party won, the Left would hit the magic number of 100 in the Assembly. Nothing beyond that was going to happen. But something else happened. When the UDF saw it as a struggle for survival, the Left took pride in its attempt to grab a seat and complete a century. With that, Thrikkakara became an election hotspot of a kind that state politics has not seen in recent times. During the month-long election campaign, there were many unfavorable tendencies from both fronts harmful to Kerala's political enlightenment. Finally, when the result came, Uma Thomas won by a historic majority of over a quarter of a lakh votes. Congress has now overcome its embarrassment of not having a woman representative. The number of women in the Kerala Legislative Assembly reached a dozen. This is a political victory for Congress and the UDF. Although Uma Thomas and her co-workers started the campaign believing that the memories and political interventions of the popular leader would turn into votes of sympathy, later it turned into bigger political debates. What led to it was the LDF's stances. They argued that LDF was raising 'development politics against the wave of sympathy'. The chief minister, 20 ministers, and almost all the ruling party legislators camped in the constituency for days and controlled the campaign. The party and the front worked like a well-oiled machine. The parallel world of social media also rose to the opportunity.
Pinarayi government's 'development' mantra became the topic of discussion everywhere. At the same time, they propagandized that Congress has an anti-development mindset. There were leaders who preached that Thrikkakara is seen as a 'mini Kerala' and that if the party wins the constituency, it will be considered Kerala's approval for all the development projects opposed by the Opposition, including K-Rail. It was hoped that such campaigns would gain greater acceptance in a constituency with a large majority of IT executives and the middle class. On the other hand, the UDF participated actively. In response to allegations and accusations of having an anti-development stance, they became more active by turning the 'Kerala model development' into a political debate at the same coin. It has also influenced the election result. A preliminary analysis of the verdict reveals that the people of Thrikkakara have turned their backs on the high-tech development models put forward by the Pinarayi government. If the urban and middle-class community in Thrikkakara were not able to embrace the developments, including K-rail, then it is not easy to presume that the entire Kerala community will accept it. Therefore, it should come as no surprise if the Pinarayi government rewrites its development slogans. The Chief Minister did not mention the Silver Line project even after speaking for an hour at the concluding session of the first anniversary celebrations of the government yesterday, probably because he had read Thrikkakara's verdict even before opening the ballot box.
But, one should not assume that only development politics was discussed in Thrikkakara. The social engineering of communal politics has also been explicitly tested in the constituency. The most worrying aspect is that the Left attempted to take part in that experiment with the thought of getting to the magic number anyway. The anti-Muslim propaganda carried out by some Christian organizations in Kerala in association with the Sangh Parivar for some time has been noticed since the last Assembly elections. The first Pinarayi government was not ready to defend or convince people about the facts, despite the strong efforts to create Muslim discrimination through propaganda such as the Love Jihad and the government's allocation of benefits to madrassa teachers. Instead, it was used for political gain in Central Kerala. The Left used the same tactic in another way in Thrikkakara. Not only did responsible leaders, like spokesmen for extremist Christian groups, make a number of statements, but they also sought to present the Left candidate as a representative of the Church in a constituency that had a decisive influence on the Christian community. The people of Thrikkakara saw through this extremely dangerous reactionary politics of LDF. It can be said that they reminded the mainstream political leadership that the basic issues of the people should be discussed first and not the populist development models and image politics. Of course, this verdict is a relief and excitement for Congress. The election result also reveals that a comeback is not impossible for the party if it works in unison. Uma Thomas asked for the vote not as PT's widow, but by reminding voters of the idealistic politics he upheld. Uma Thomas, who raised the Kerala actress's assault case as a campaign issue, also has a moral obligation to intervene in the assembly in this regard. As such, let us wish her good luck to be a meritorious legislator in that way.