While the Left Democratic Front (LDF) did double its 2009 tally of four seats, its leadership now feels they could have done better if during the Lok Sabha elections they had properly exploited the double anti-incumbency factor against the Congress, ruling both in the state and at the centre.
Facing a combative Oommen Chandy-led Congress and the United Democratic Front, the final tally for the Left in Kerala was Communist Party of India-M (5), Left-supported Independents (2) and CPI (1).
For the CPI, Thrissur where C.N. Jayadevan beat sitting Congress MP K.P. Dhanapalan, is the only Lok Sabha seat the party managed to win anywhere in the country.
Kerala now accounts for more than half the tally of seats won by the CPI-M nationally. The state elected five CPI-M candidates, while two each were elected from West Bengal and Tripura.
The CPI-M’s star campaigner and Leader of Opposition in the assembly V.S. Achuthanandan summed up the Left’s disappointment in a statement where he claimed they had not been able to make best use of the strong resentment against the Congress at the centre and in the state over corruption, price-rise and increasing atrocities against women.
Though the party managed to double their numbers compared to 2009, former Rajya Sabha member M.A. Baby’s loss to former cabinet colleague N.K. Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in Kollam was shocking.
Premachandran had switched loyalties from the Left to the Congress-led United Democratic Front, just after the polls were announced in March.
“Yes, the loss that we suffered in Kollam, Alappuzha, Kozhikode and Vadakara has hurt us. We did not expect this. Anyway, we will introspect on what happened,” senior CPI-M legislator and former finance minister Thomas Issac said.
In Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency, even though P. Karunakaran completed a winning hat-trick, the sailing wasn’t smooth with his victory margin dropping from 64,000 votes to a mere 6,921 votes.
But one reason to cheer for the CPI-M is it was able to wrest the prestigious Kannur Lok Sabha seat from the Congress, with central committee member and former minister P.K. Sreemathi defeating incumbent Congress member Sudhakaran by a slender margin of 6,566 votes.
Reacting to the poll results, BJP state president V. Muraleedharan said the results clearly show the CPI-M is no alternative to the Congress.
“The people by now have realised that the Left here did not have it in them to capture the nationwide resentment against the Congress. Therefore, the Left has failed. The two seats which they won (Idukki and Chalakudy) by putting up Independents cannot be counted as their victory. Everyone knows those victories were for other reasons,” said Muraleedharan.
With vote count done, all eyes are now on next week’s politburo meeting of the CPI-M, which will deliberate on steps needed to be taken to revive the sagging morale of the Left cadre here.
Also on the agenda is a possible golden handshake with 90-year-old indefatigable veteran Achuthanandan, whose magic and charisma worked well for the LDF in 2006 and 2011 assembly campaigns, but failed in the Lok Sabha polls.