It's Red spring again in Kerala

Congress-led UDF reduced to 47 seats; LDF gets 91; BJP makes debut

It's Red spring again in Kerala

Kerala played to a familiar script of anti-incumbency with the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) making a thumping return to power, winning 91 of the 140 constituencies in the state Assembly.

The Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) suffered a rout in the Left wave, reduced to 47 constituencies. The election also witnessed history being created in Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram where the BJP won its first ever Assembly constituency in the state through veteran leader O Rajagopal.

The Left rode on a poll campaign which saw its two tallest leaders — V S Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan — leading from the front while the Congress and the ruling coalition did not have enough steam to tide over the aftershocks of corruption scandals.

The BJP’s Assembly entry is likely to redefine political equations in the state which has traditionally swung only between coalitions led by the CPM and the Congress. The party increased its vote share to 10.5% from its 6.03% share in 2011.

The CPM increased its seat tally from 45 to 58 while the Congress won 22 seats, 17 less than its tally in 2011. The CPM and the Congress have vote shares of 26.5% and 23.7% respectively. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called the loss “unexpected” while Leader of the Opposition Achuthanandan dubbed the result the people’s response to the state government’s regressive policies.

The LDF dominated 11 of the state’s 14 districts and also made significant gains in the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) bastion of Malappuram, winning four of the 16 constituencies. The Left swept Kollam (11 of 11 seats) and Thrissur (12 of 13 seats) districts, while delivering a dominant show in Kannur and Alappuzha districts.

Four UDF ministers — K Babu and P K Jayalakshmy of the Congress, Shibu Baby John of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and K P Mohanan of JD(U) — suffered losses while Congress leaders including A P Abdullakutty, C P Mohammed, Palode Ravi, K Sivadasan Nair, P C Vishnunadh and Speaker N Sakthan, all sitting MLAs, also lost.

Prominent CPM leaders Achuthanandan, Pinarayi and E P Jayarajan and the Congress top brass including Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, Health Minister V S Sivakumar and Forests Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan registered impressive victories. Ernakulam and Kottayam districts offered some respite for the UDF; the coalition’s candidates won nine of 14 and six of nine constituencies, respectively.

In an election which saw four major coalition partners — RSP, JD(U), Kerala Congress (Democratic) and Bharat Dharma Jana Sena — drawing a blank, Kerala Congress rebel and independent candidate P C George pulled off a terrific win in Poonjar. Corruption scam-hit former finance minister K M Mani won a 13th term, from Pala, and called it people’s endorsement of his “innocence”.

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