Kerala Polls: Last-minute under-currents may turn the tide

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Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala saw one of the most spirited election campaigns in recent times. With just 24 hours left for polling, it’s all about political under-currents, which is likely to decide the eventual winner.

Polls will start at 7 a.m on Tuesday and end at 7 p.m which will seal the fate of the candidates in the 140 assembly constituencies in Kerala.

Meanwhile, candidates from the three rival political fronts have started visiting voters in and around their polling booths to make one final appeal.

Even as the candidates are busy, what will actually determine if Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan writes himself into record books by retaining power, will largely depend on political under-currents which come into play on the eve of polling day.

A political analyst on condition of anonymity said that time and again it has become evident that these political under-currents come into play in the state.

“Till the BJP made its presence in the state, the principal political fronts — the ruling CPI-M led Left and the Congress led United Democratic Front ( UDF)– had their respective vote banks. The crucial factor was how and where the apolitical votes were cast. Now with the arrival of the BJP, which has a 16 per cent vote share, the poll dynamics have changed. In some constituencies, it benefited the Left and in others the Congress gained. Today the crucial factor which might come into play is which of the traditional fronts will get a majority of the nearly 20 to 21 per cent Muslim and the around 18 per cent Christian votes and whosoever gets that will romp home,” said an analyst, who did not wish to be identified.

Poll statistics reveal that in the 2016 assembly polls, there was a major shift among the minority communities towards the Left, which enabled Vijayan to win hands down and likewise in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, there was a paradigm shift that was seen by the minorities towards the Congress-led UDF, which enabled them to win 19 of the 20 constituencies in the state.

Incidentally as far as the Christian community is concerned, by now the majority Catholic community (Catholics in Kerala constitute 50 per cent of 61.41 lakh Christian population in the state) appears to have made up its mind. Of its three churches- Roman Catholic, Latin Catholic and the Malankara Catholic — the first two appear to be favouring the Congress-led UDF. The Archdiocese of Thrissur in its publication recently cautioned the faithful to sensibly exercise their franchise as promises made last time were not fulfilled.

The case appears to be similar with the Muslim community. The Indian Union Muslim League, the second biggest ally of the UDF, has fielded 27 candidates and are likely to get a chunk of the Muslim votes. What happens to Muslim votes in constituencies where the IUML does not contest will be a crucial factor .

Popular comedian and Congress candidate in the 2016 polls, Jagadeesh said that during the two weeks he campaigned in the southern and central districts (Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kottayam) he has sensed that it will be a fight to finish.

His words may bring cheer to UDF candidates as in the 2016 assembly polls in these six districts, the Left had won a majority of the seats.

Incidentally the two traditional fronts are hoping against hope that the under-currents will favour them, while the BJP is also expecting that on account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting bishops from Christian churches they are no longer political untouchables.

The Congress-led UDF appears to be sitting pretty as they have realised their star campaigners Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have been able to swing the minorities to their side.

However, it wouldn’t be until May 2nd, when the votes are going to be counted that one knows which front has gained the most from political under-currents.

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