UDF ignores signals

The narrow win registered by the Congress-led UDF in Kerala can only be partly ascribed to the heroics of V S Achuthanandan though he did brilliantly shore up the sagging fortunes of his front through his “anti-corruption and get-justice” crusade. It was more of a strategic defeat for the UDF which went into the election as a divided house grappling with parties which were fading into irrelevance.

The results have sounded the deathknell of two small parties in the UDF – the JSS and the CMP while the unimpressive show put up by the Socialist Janata Dal also came as a setback to it. After it somehow managed to sort out the seat allocation disputes in the UDF, the Congress party itself struggled to decide its candidates and succumbed to many pulls and pressures.

The results also show that only seven of the 15 candidates nominated by Rahul Gandhi from the Youth Congress could triumph.   As for the VS effect, it was virtually nil in at least two districts – Malappuram and Ernakulam – and his aura failed to have a sweeping effect in the LDF strongholds of Palakkad and Kannur. The UDF is still unable to believe how it lost seats in Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts.

Clear signals

Yet, if Congress leaders ignored the clear signals sent by the thin crowds that attended the election meetings of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, only they are to blame. Perhaps, the spiralling price rise and corruption had also distanced the UPA from its traditional supporters. None of the UDF leaders believed that the LDF had ploughed back from the doldrums it was in just six months ago when the elections to local bodies took place. They also tried to raise the Achuthanandan government’s “non-governance” as a campaign plank though it was too late to do so.

On the other hand, each and every LDF candidate including CPM leaders who has been opposing Achuthanandan in their party meetings used his photographs along with theirs during the campaign. CPM state secretary and VS’s political foe Pinarayi Vijayan himself had to admit that never before had he seen such an idolising trend in Left politics.

Yet, the UDF leaders were unwilling to pick these signals and alter their campaign accordingly.  As Defence Minister A K Antony who spearheaded the UDF campaign summed up, the Congress seemed to have been over-confident and VS’s last-minute cameo also did the trick for the LDF. 

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