Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 20 (IANS) The Kerala civic polls are over and it was touted as the semi final to the grand finale, the Sssembly polls to be held in April/May 2021 and the outcome has baffled not just the losers, the Congress-led opposition, but also the victors, the ruling Pinarayi Vijayan government, for more reasons than one.
The final tally according to the state Election Commission shows that when it comes to actual seats won, the ruling Left has the edge in the grassroots, block, district panchayat and the Corporation, while the Congress-led UDF is ahead by a whisker at the municipality level.
Incidentally, although the Congress was expecting a significant gain in the number of seats, state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran was trying to put a brave face, by saying that the expected surge in seats failed to take place and he has taken the full responsibility of the verdict.
One aspect of the civic polls is that the BJP which in 2015 had 1,200 seats, despite tall claims of doing well, could manage just 1,600 seats only.
Not one to lose any opportunity to take the advantage of the results was none other than Chief Minister Vijayan, who was seen cutting a cake at his party headquarters and handing over a piece to each of the leaders of the allies, when they came to take part in the first Left Democratic Front meeting.
Vijayan has also announced his detailed whirlwind tour of the 14 districts which will begin on December 22, with just a break on Christmas day, and will end on the December 30.
What has come as the biggest surprise for practically anyone who follows politics in Kerala is how did Vijayan manage to pull off one of the biggest election wins by managing to suppress the worst ever scandals, the now infamous Kerala gold smuggling case, faced by any ruling government in the history of the state.
Two of his most trusted aides, senior IAS official M. Sivasankar is cooling his heels in the jail since October 2 and C.M.Ravindran, who is seen as his ‘man Friday’, after ducking three notices served by the Enforcement Directorate on December 17 and 18 underwent a gruelling grilling session and is asked to return on Monday.
Despite all this, the masterstroke from Vijayan came when he said that if one looks into previous poll results, whosoever has won the civic polls has gone on to win the Assembly polls, clearly indicating that history will be created by him and his Left alliance, when they will become the first ever government in the history of the state to have retained power.
But quick in denial was the Congress party who said the only time in the history of Kerala civic polls, the Congress managed to come first only once and that was in 2015.
Despite Vijayan’s tough demeanour and the way he carries forward by clearly stating that he is the final word both in his party and in the government, so far there has been not even a whimper of even a murmur, from any one either in his party or from the government.
Before the results were declared, the Congress-led UDF was on a high, especially, as the media was having a field day in the gold smuggling case and also they felt the effect of the arrest of the son of CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, would all work to the people’s anger against the Vijayan government.
And it reached a crescendo when Balakrishnan quit, but when the votes was counted, Vijayan rode to victory, leaving not just the Congress crestfallen, but even Vijayan’s associates is yet to come to terms with their victory.
Now all eyes are on the ‘unruly’ Congress party, where discipline is not at all a factor and the washing of dirty linen is a norm, the first shots of asking the Congress to put their house in order has come their own leaders and not to mention from the allies like the Indian Union Muslim League and the RSP, who have categorically told the Congress party, time is running out.
Already cries and huge flex boards have appeared asking for Congress strongman and Lok Sabha member K. Sudhakaran to take over the reins of the party from Ramachandran.
Even though there is hardly any possibility of a change of guard in the Congress party, all eyes are on if it’s most popular leader, two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will come out of his shackles and lead the party from the front, as at present it’s Ramesh Chennithala who is the Leader of Opposition.
So at the moment, Vijayan is riding high and the Congress is hoping against hope, that voters will rise to the occasion as they did in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when the Congress led UDF won 19 out of the 20 seats.