Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, off late addressed by many in the social media as ‘Captain’, seems set to justify the title by creating history by leading the Left Democratic Front to its second consecutive victory, a feat which bucks an over 40-year-old trend in the state’s electoral politics.
As the counting of votes reaches the last few rounds across the state’s 140 Assembly constituencies, the LDF is leading in 98 seats, with the Congress-led United Democratic Front leading in 41 and the BJP in one seat — Palakkad where Metroman E. Sreedharan is leading by 1,700 votes, as against over 5,000 at one point.
The Left’s stunning performance can be attributed to no one other than Chief Minister Vijayan who led from the front.
In the 2016 polls, it was party stalwart V.S. Achuthanandan who led from the front and after the Left won, Vijayan stepped in to take the Chief Minister’s post, while Achuthanandan was given the post of ‘Kerala Castro’.
Vijayan, despite running into numerous troubles in various issues, stood his ground and boldly went forward. His writ ran large when it came to selecting party candidates, with seven ministers and 26 legislators left out.
Even with a few rounds of counting left, senior Congress leader and MP Benny Behanan said they accept the verdict and will sit down to find out what went wrong.
The leads are on the lines of the exit polls had predicted a victory for the Left, with few of them giving it over 100 seats while sticking to a minimum of 75.
The Congress-led UDF, which had swept the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, will have to do a lot of introspection as they were banking on a backlash against the Left from the Hindu women voters, especially those who are devotees of Lord Ayyappa, over Vijayan altering the traditions of the Sabarimala temple in 2018. After getting knocked out at the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Vijayan decided to wait for the apex court directive and then decide.
Likewise, the UDF also expected a backlash against the government from the fishing community which has its presence in around 50 constituencies, after Vijayan was forced to cancel an agreement with a US-based company for deep sea fishing.
That is only turning out to be the nemesis of state Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty, who is trailing as counting entered the final rounds.
Also, its new ally Kerala Congress-Mani’s leader Jose K.Mani, son of late legendary K.M. Mani whose party was in the Congress-led UDF till last year before switching over to the LDF, was trailing in Pala, represented by his father for over half a century.
What will be painful for him is a few of the other candidates from his party are leading.
Among the giant losers at the moment include seven-time legislator P.C. George, presently an independent candidate.
It only remains to see if the LDF will end up with three digits, by crossing 100 seats.