THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An uneasy political calm surrounds the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala headed by Oommen Chandy as it sails into the fifth year today with groupism resurfacing in the party and ties souring with some of the coalition partners.
Though putting up a brave face, Chandy had made it clear that UDF government would complete its full term in office, political observers feel that the year ahead was not going to be easy for Chandy, who came to power on a wafer thin majority of two MLAs in 2011 riding on the slogan of "development and care".
Immediate challenge before the UDF is the ensuing by-poll in the Aruvikara Assembly segment in Thiruvanthapuram district, which fell vacant following the death of former speaker and Congress leader, G Karthikeyan in February last.
Winning the poll is crucial for Congress and UDF and all the more for Chandy, as his continuation as Chief Minister depends on it, political observers pointed out.
Election, scheduled to be held in next three months, was being considered as a referendum on the performance of the government, hit by the Solar and Bar Bribe scams and corruptions in the PWD ministry.
Rejecting the allegations, Chandy said in an article released for publication on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the government that no one can strap the government by levelling graft allegations. People do not want controversies, but results, he said.
"This government has proved that with its performance", Chandy said, adding, when the government came to power it had a majority of only two MLAs. "Many people were sceptical about government's stability, but no one talks about it now".
"It is not the majority that is important, what is needed is commitment. People will decide whether the government has performed or not", he said.
Even though there was no immediate threat to the position of Chandy, reports of demand for leadership change have started trickling out from a faction in Congress in the state known as (I) group loyal to former KPCC Chief and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who, however has made it clear that leadership change was not in the agenda of the party.
But, a defeat for Congress in the by-poll in Aruvikara might strengthen the move for a leadership change as part of "image built up of the government", observers pointed out.
Major embarrassment the UDF recently faced was the bar bribery scam in which an FIR had been filed against Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) supremo K M Mani in a Vigilance Court. Vigilance probe into the case based on the allegations raised by bar owner Biju Ramesh was progressing.
Congress leader and Excise Minister K Babu, considered to be close to Chandy, was also facing charges of corruption in the scam.
With CPI-M led LDF wooing minor partners-- RSP and JDU headed M P Veerendrakumar and the latter openly expressing discontent over the manner in which it was being treated is also a cause for worry for UDF.
UDF, which came to power with 72 seats and LDF with 68 in 2011 has witnessed changes in its partners with Kerala Congress (B) led by R Balakrishna Pillai with lone MLA and K B Ganeshkumar moving away, while RSP with two MLAs came to the UDF camp.
Not only this, in a surprise development in 2012 one of the CPI-M MLA R Selvaraj resigned and later contested as a Congress candidate and won from Neyyatinkara constituency.
Presently UDF has 73 members, while LDF 65 in the 140 members assembly in which Ganeshkumar was keeping away from both fronts and one seat of Former Speaker is vacant.
Chandy, who will formally kick off the fifth year celebrations here this evening, has said there would be no new announcements this year and the government's priority was to complete the projects started and honour all the promises made to the electorate.