By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The result of the assembly elections in five states will not boost the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala. The Party can not hope for any inroads in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The reasons are clear: Kerala is not Uttar Pradesh. The Hindutva politics, which the BJP has successfully practised in UP, won’t flourish in a secular state like Kerala. That the politics of religious polarization has failed to firm up in the State has been proved time and again. In fact, the vote percentage of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has steadily declined. The diminishing returns began with the local bodies elections in Kerala. And the Assembly elections which followed showed that Kerala’s political soil is hostile to the politics of communalism assiduously practised by the Hindutva camp.
Of course, BJP leaders in the State are buoyed by the remarkable victory of the party in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The result, BJP state president K Surendran said, would give the party in the state a much-needed boost. It will have an appreciable impact on the BJP’s prospects in Kerala. Union Minister of state for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan identified himself with the sentiments expressed by Surendran. But their hopes that the BJP will be benefited by the poll result will remain a pipedream unless the two secular fronts in the State, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) and the Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF) commit major political blunders, creating space for the growth of the Hindutva forces.
There is no denying, however, that outcome has badly rattled the UDF. The Congress cannot but feel gravely concerned about the party’s poor show in all the five states. The party has paid a heavy price for the factional politics in which it indulged openly, especially in Punjab. The shocking display of factionalism in Congress which preceded the poll in Punjab was nothing but political hara-kiri. It fared no better in Uttarakhand where, again, the ugly face of groupism reared its head and the Congress lost a golden opportunity to cash in on the anti-incumbency factor against the BJP Government in the State.
The Congress in Kerala must learn lessons from the adverse poll verdict. But its track record is anything but inspiring. There are no signs of the serious introspection the party must undergo in the wake of the humiliating defeat. The party in Kerala continues to be a house divided against itself despite a change of guard in the state after the loss in the State assembly elections. Factionalism has refused to die down. In fact, new groups have come into being and are back at the kind of internecine group politics it has resorted in the past. Unless the party reads the writing on the wall, the Kerala unit, which still is a force to reckon with in State politics, will go the way the party has withered in the five states which went to the polls recently.
In fact, the warning signals are already there. The allies of the Congress in the UDF like the Indian Union Muslim League and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) are feeling distinctly uneasy. Reports have it that the IUML may soon quit the UDF and join the LDF if things do not improve. The IUML has not reacted officially so far to the poll result. But it is clear that the party is upset over the poll result. The coming days could see the IUML coming under greater pressure of the CPI(M) to severe its ties with the UDF.
Meanwhile, the tug of war within the Congress in the state is well and truly on. Party’s national general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal will find himself on a vulnerable wicket following the poll debacle. The leaders who were marginalized by Venugopal are likely to intensify their efforts to cut him to size.
The results have proved once again that the need of the hour is for total unity of all secular and democratic forces at the national level. That alone can stop the BJP juggernaut. The CPI(M) must take the initiative for uniting regional parties, left forces and other national parties to oust the BJP from power. The Congress, weakened badly by the adverse poll result is simply in no position to head an anti-BJP front. That party has failed to come up with an alternative policy to counter the BJP. In fact, its policies have time and again helped the Hindutva camp. The task is well and truly cut out for the left forces led by the CPI(M) and the CPI. The time to act is now. (IPA Service)