Left win big in Keralan state elections

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LDF supporters celebrate in Mallpuram. Photo: Abdul Latheef Naha from The Hindu website

The Keralan State election results are now in (Red Wave Trounces UDF) and there was a big win for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF) coalition that beat the ruling Indian National Congress party led United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition.

The LDF won 91 out of the 140 seats.

The strong left-wing tradition (that started with the election off a Communist state government in the first elections after independence)  means that Kerala has the lowest positive population growth rate in India (3.44%); the highest Human Development Index (HDI) (0.790 in 2011); the highest literacy rate (93.91%); and the highest life expectancy (77 years)

The Keralan state assembly has a tradition of flipping between the Communist Party and Congress Party so anything but a win for the LDF would have been a big setback for the left, but the scale of the LDF win was greater than anyone had expected.

A less palatable aspect of these elections was the one seat won by the bigoted Hindu nationalist BJP (who lead the Indian national government) that gave them their first inroad into the Keralan state assembly.

A single seat win may seem like small beer and nothing to be concerned about, but the BJP are a very right-wing party with very close links to both the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena both of whom are extreme right-wing Hindu nationalist organisations with a propensity to violence, particularly towards Muslims. This violent nature of the RSS was shockingly apparent in these elections, with an RSS bomb attack at an LDF victory rally in Dharmadam, killing one CPI-M worker and injuring several others.

Kerala is perhaps the most religiously diverse part of India and is well-known for being a tolerant place where people of different faiths rub along very happily. As a consequence, unlike most of the rest of India, the BJP with their divisive bigoted politics have generally had little traction in Kerala. So although a the win by the left is to be welcomed, a single seat win in such a tolerant place like Kerala has to give rise to some concern.

Edited to add: this initial post gave the reported 85 set for the LDF but it is now apparent the LDF grouping is 91 as there are five independents who have aligned themselves with the LDF along with the one seat won by the Communist Marist Party. So the LDF now have 91 out of 140 seats.

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One thought on “Left win big in Keralan state elections

  1. Interesting analysis, Ravi. True, the BJP have now finally ‘broken their duck’ in Kerala, and that’s a real setback from the point of view of progressive politics in the state. For me, it’s just another sign of the growing political polarisation between Left and Right in India, and of the ongoing decline of the centre-ground politics of Congress and its allies. The LDF now have a great opportunity to establish progressive policies on a much longer-term basis in Kerala than they have ever been able, or allowed to before.

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