LDF's poll debacle stirs a hornet’s nest in KC(M)

While the CPI has blamed CM Pinarayi Vijayan for the defeat and called for a change in his approach, the KC(M), the third-largest constituent of the Left Front, continues to support him.
Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K Mani.
Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K Mani.(Photo| Express)

KOCHI : Amid widespread criticism following the recent electoral setback, the Kerala Congress (M) is rallying behind Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. However, a section of party leaders feels that the CM’s actions contributed to the Left Front’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in Kottayam constituency, a traditional Kerala Congress stronghold. Party chairman Jose K Mani is of the view that the CM alone was not accountable for the electoral loss and it should be attributed to all LDF allies since they contested unitedly, making everyone responsible for the outcome.

Despite this, it is evident that dissatisfaction is growing within the party. Former MP Thomas Chazhikadan’s critique at the party’s steering committee meeting, blaming the Chief Minister’s remarks at the Nava Kerala Sadas for the defeat, highlights this internal discontent.

While the CPI has blamed the CM for the defeat and called for a change in his approach, the KC(M), the third-largest constituent of the Left Front, continues to support him. This political dynamics has surprised many, especially within LDF circles, as many in the KC(M) believe the CM’s criticism of Chazhikadan’s focus on rubber farmers’ issues and local development projects during the Nava Kerala Sadas in Pala backfired among voters.

Adding to the party, their rival faction, the Joseph group, capitalised on these issues. Francis George, MP, who defeated Chazhikadan, said he is committed to raising the decline in rubber prices and other Kottayam-related issues in Parliament. According to the Joseph faction leaders, the MP will address the decline in rubber prices, farmers’ difficulties, and the tourism prospects of Kottayam in the Lok Sabha in the upcoming sessions.

KC(M) leaders are also worried about a perceived campaign from the Left front itself alleging that the Mani group joining the LDF has not brought any benefits to the front in the LS polls. However, leaders pointed out that Thomas Chazhikadan did not even receive the votes secured by CPM candidate V N Vasavan in the 2019 elections from the LDF citadels, a point highlighted by Chazhikadan during the party meeting. “Chazhikadan didn’t get the votes Vasavan secured last time. Despite the LDF winning two assembly seats—Vaikom and Ettumanoor—in 2021, Chazhikadan only led in Vaikom constituency,” a senior leader noted.

Despite these issues, the party’s stance is to maintain unity within the front and correct its course without personal criticism. During the KC(M) meeting held in Kottayam on Sunday, it was assessed that grassroots supporters, who have traditionally backed the Left, distanced themselves from the LDF in this election. The party believes that the state government needs to adjust its priorities accordingly.

Additionally, the party has called for the establishment of a Land Reforms Commission to overhaul all land-related regulations in the state. The meeting emphasised contradictions in the current regulations and raised concerns over an order issued by the Revenue Principal Secretary on June 1, which revised guidelines from a State Land Board circular last October, allowing plantation land to be used for other purposes. Interestingly, the portfolio is handled by CPI in the Pinarayi cabinet.

CM gets support of KC(M)

While the CPI has blamed the CM for the defeat and called for a change in his approach, the KC(M), the third-largest constituent of the Left Front, continues to support him.

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