Many smaller parties knock at LDF’s doors

Thiruvananthapuram, March 13 (IANS) More and more leaders of smaller parties and estranged partners of the ruling UDF are trying to join the Left Democratic Alliance (LDF) ahead of assembly elections in Kerala.

As it is, the LDF, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), is a crowded house.

The alliance also includes the Communist Party of India (CPI), Nationalist Congress Party, Janata Dal-Secular and Kerala Congress (Skaria Thomas).

The Indian National League and Forward Bloc have been fellow partners but are not full-time members LDF members.

Now the Janadhipathya Samrakshana Samithi (JSS) and the Communist Marxist Party (CMP), both founded by former veteran CPI-M leaders K.R. Gowri and the late M.V. Raghavan respectively, want to be LDF partners, after having been with the Congress-led United Democratic Alliance (UDF) for decades.

With Kerala’s electorate tightly divided between the LDF and UDF, smaller parties know that they need one of the larger umbrellas to win.

Gowri last week visited her old party headquarters after a gap of 22 years to see if her party can get a few seats to contest as part of the LDF family.

The CMP has split, with one section leaning towards the Left. On Saturday, media entrepreneur M.V. Nikesh Kumar, the late Raghavan’s son, met CPI-M leaders here, hoping to get a seat to contest.

Adding to the confusion are the moves of R. Balakrishna Pillai, founder of the UDF in the early 70s. His Kerala Congress (Pillai) has wound up its activities in the UDF and his son, the lone party legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar, is certain to get the nod of the CPI-M to contest from the seat he holds: Pathanapuram in Kollam district.

Pillai, who served a year in jail for corruption, is reportedly desperate that the CPI-M gives him a seat too to contest.

Then there is six-time legislator P.C. George, who was disqualified as a legislator last year after moving out of the Kerala Congress (Mani), the third biggest ally of the UDF.

He too has met top leaders of the CPI-M. He wants to be a candidate from his traditional seat Poonjar in Kottayam district with LDF backing.

The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), a UDF ally with three legislators, split last month, with one of its legislators Kovoor Kunjumon quitting his membership and moving over to the LDF.

He, unlike George, has been welcomed with open arms by the CPI-M and will get to contest his seat.

And recently, a group of four leaders led by former Lok Sabha member Francis George and his associates from the Kerala Congress (Mani) who have formed a new party – Kerala Congress (Democratic) – have decided to join forces with the LDF.

A CPI-M leader who did not wish to be identified told IANS that the LDF will discuss “how best we can satisfy all the new groups who have come to us.

“Already we have completed one round of discussion with these groups and parties. Since the polls are only on May 16, we have time at our disposal. All aspects will be discussed,” said the source.

The CPI, however, is not happy with so many new groups moving towards the LDF at the eleventh hour and has made it clear that it won’t give up any of its seats.

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