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Kerala Assembly elections 2021: Who has the edge?

As Kerala heads to polls on April 6 to select a govt, TNIE begins its comprehensive coverage of the elections.

Published: 28th February 2021 04:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th February 2021 11:44 AM   |  A+A-

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP State president K Surendran

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP State president K Surendran (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

As Kerala heads to polls on April 6 to select a govt, TNIE begins its comprehensive coverage of the elections.

Will Kerala, which is known to alternate between LDF and UDF, spring a surprise? Will BJP strengthen its position? We start with a SWOT analysis of the three fronts.

UDF

STRENGTHS

Trio is united 

The triumvirate of Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Mullappally Ramachandran is keeping aside its differences to dislodge the Pinarayi-led LDF government.

Rahul factor  

If Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigns extensively in Kerala, UDF will have an edge. A tour by Rahul with sister Priyanka Gandhi would help UDF swing votes in its favour.

Return of Kunhalikutty  

The re-entry of P K Kunhalikutty, IUML national general secretary, into state politics has strengthened UDF

Chandy helming campaign 

Bringing back popular leader Oommen Chandy to head the campaign panel has given a boost to Congress workers.

WEAKNESS

Candidate selection

Selection of candidates along ‘A’, ‘I’ group affiliations and the rebellion that follows. 

Jose Mani switching camp

Jose K Mani joining LDF is expected to slice away a portion of UDF’s traditional vote base in central Kerala.

Christian-Muslim tension 

Unrest between Muslim and the Christian communities, two major vote banks of UDF, after IUML opposed 10% quota for economically weaker sections among forward castes.

Church’s fear of Muslim domination 

The Church fears UDF’s return will mean Muslims occupying prominent roles with IUML cornering key portfolios, including education, where the Church has stakes. It has also aired its concerns of ‘Love jihad’ and is unhappy with IUML leader Panakkad Sadik Ali Shihab Thangal’s statement hailing the reconversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

OPPORTUNITIES

Split in LDF

Split in LDF allies — Mani C Kappan from NCP, JSS led by A N Rajan Babu and JD(S) led by general secretary George Thomas – and their entry into UDF has given it momentum.

Backdoor appointments and PSC rank-holders’ stir

Government’s failure to settle the strike by PSC rank-holders and the row over backdoor appointments and nepotism have helped UDF.

Fishing deal

The deep-sea fishing deal signed by the government with US-based EMCC has helped UDF gain support of fishers.

Gold smuggling, LIFE mission: 

The gold smuggling and LIFE Mission scam can help UDF drive home its charges that the LDF government is not clean.

THREATS

Rebels

The biggest threat faced by UDF, especially Congress is the candidates selection. The party has to be very careful in selecting candidates.

LDF’s free food kits

The Pinarayi government’s move to distribute free food kits, which benefitted 88 lakh  families, is cited as a major factor in helping LDF register win in local body polls. To counter this, UDF has promised to introduce NYAY scheme, wherein poor families will receive Rs 6,000 per month.

Palarivattom flyover

If UDF retains V K Ebrahim Kunju in Kalamassery, LDF will use it to attack the front during campaigning citing the Palarivattom flyover scam.

Veterans who will not move away

The old guard in Congress, including K C Joseph (74), P J Kurien (79) and P C Chacko (74), still want to contest, blocking the way for young and new faces.

LDF

STRENGTHS

Pinarayi Vijayan

Unified leadership in front and the party. No factional feuds.

Development 

Major developmental and infrastructure initiatives in addition to welfare measures like free food kits.

New allies 

Entry of ex-UDF allies — KC(M) led by Jose K Mani and LJD. 

Local body momentum

The general pro-Left wave in the local body elections. 

WEAKNESS

Weak defence

Failure to effectively counter campaigns around two recent controversies. 

No VS

V S Achuthanandan, the biggest crowd-puller and most popular campaigner of LDF in the last three assembly elections, is keeping away this time.

OPPORTUNITIES

Favourable sentiment

Strong public sentiment that the Left may get continuity in office. Poll surveys also predict the same.

Early talks 

Early seat-sharing within the front without major disputes. Young and better candidates.

Jose K Mani

Making in-roads into Christian vote base in central Travancore with Jose K Mani’s entry. 

THREATS

Revoking cases

Possible positive response from various communities after withdrawal of cases related to Sabarimala and anti-CAA protests. 

Controversies

Two major controversies that cropped up in the final lap — Regularising temporary staff and the deep-sea fishing deal.

Community trouble

Strong opposition from NSS and anti-Left sentiment among certain sections post failure to sort out Orthodox-Jacobite issue.

Mani C Kappan

Mani switching allegiance to UDF can prove costly for LDF in central Travancore.

THIRD FRONT

STRENGTHS

Dedicated cadre: A dedicated cadre and grassroots-level election work involving RSS men

Money: Huge funding for campaign, Central government’s firm backing

Strategy:  Gaining the confidence of various Church groups through PM-level talks 

New entrants: Roping in Jacob Thomas, E Sreedharan and other prominent personalities 

WEAKNESS

Internal tussle: Factional feud in state unit that often needs the national leadership’s intervention 

Sobha factor:  BJP State VP Sobha Surendran and her supporters yet to be taken into confidence

Chief trouble: Opposition within party towards K Surendran’s style of functioning

Limited avenues: Limited seats in the state where BJP can win on its own

OPPORTUNITIES

Mobilisation:  Prospects of mobilising large chunk of anti-LDF votes to its advantage 

Love jihad: Gaining confidence of Christian voters by taking a strident stance against ‘Love jihad’

Decider: Playing crucial role in deciding winner in at least 15 seats

Share: Has chance to increase vote share considerably

THREATS

Fuel: Rising fuel and cooking gas prices may hamper party’s chances

Sabarimala: UDF is making the most of Sabarimala factor as it did in 2019
        
Minority votes: Large-scale consolidation of minority votes .

Hindutva: Alienating secular voters by excessively whipping up Hindutva



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  • S Venkataraman

    Even after several decades of independence
    2 months ago reply
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