With the 2021 Kerala Assembly polls all set to be announced and likely to be held in April/May, the three political fronts have already hit the road on what could be a gruelling election campaign as a scorching summer lies ahead.
The Congress-led UDF, presently in the opposition was the first to hit the road and on Tuesday evening the grand finale to the statewide yatra of Leader of Opposition will be inaugurated by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, here.
Likewise the ruling CPI-M led Left Democratic Front’s two separate yatra are presently crisscrossing the state, while the state BJP president K.Surendran’s yatra has just begun its trip to the state capital form Kasargode on Sunday.
Over the years, Kerala has had the unique distinction of not electing the ruling front in the next assembly election, but the ruling Pinarayi Vijayan led Left government is harbouring hopes of re-writing electoral history by becoming the first ruling government to retain power.
“The stage is definitely set for the Vijayan government to retain power. The people’s verdict that came in the December local body election is a significant step in that direction. People have now started experiencing the fruits of the focused good governance that emphasised on all-round development,” said Left convenor and acting CPI-M secretary A. Vijayaraghavan, who is leading one of the two statewide yatra of the Left.
However, while none of the political fronts have come out with any candidate lists, the second biggest ally of the ruling Left — th CPI has come out with a concrete guideline which says anyone who has contested three times will not be considered and none would be given any exemption.
Through this directive, the hopes of contesting another election have been dashed for three sitting State cabinet minister of the party and three senior sitting legislators.
“I fully accept the party decision and since I have completed three terms, I will not be there this time. So now fresh faces will get a chance to contest,” said former State Minister and present legislator C.Divakaran.
The Congress party has come out with a broad guideline that all the sitting 22 MLAs will be given another chance and the sole exception to this is eight time legislator K.C.Joseph, who might be allowed to contest from a new seat and not from the one which he has won a record eight times.
“We expect the first round of our candidate list to be out by the end of this month. Around 40 names of the likely 90 seats that the Congress party contests would be out. All are expecting that this time contrary to the various faction leaders sharing the seats, 50 per cent of the candidates would be new faces and emphasis would be given to youth, and women,” said a top Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
The CPI-M, however, has completed a few rounds of talks and the preliminary indications are that a few State Minister’s like A.K.Balan, T.P.Ramakrishnan, E.P.Jayarajan, G.Sudhakaran and even State Finance Minister Thomas Issac, who all have had a long innings might be asked to return to party work.
A few of its old guards who have been concentrating in party work like E.P.Jayarajan, former State Minister M.A.Baby might be asked to contest.
The BJP-led NDA presently has just one seat in the 140 member Kerala Assembly and is trying to do its best to ensure that they emerge stronger in the political fabric of the state as their vote share is hovering around the 11 per cent (as per 2016 assembly polls).
Though the BJP has a sound base in few areas in districts like Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Palakkad, Thrissur and Kasargode, it remains to be seen if it will be able to consolidate and emerge victorious, as they managed to finish second in six assembly constituencies.
With the Election Commission officials meeting scheduled for the first week of March, when the dates would be announced, the three political fronts is expecting that they will be able to finalise their list of candidates latest by March 10, so as to kickstart some serious election campaign.