Left out with resounding message

For the LDF, the 2024 elections were a painful rerun of 2019, marked not by gains but by severe blows to its heavyweights. The electorate seemed to be on a mission of vengeance, delivering a clear and stinging message to the CPM-led government for self-criticism.
Kerala Lok Sabha Election 2024
Kerala Lok Sabha Election 2024


Two steps back, two steps forward, and then two steps right back to square one—the recent election results have left the CPM and its LDF allies in a dizzying political dance. With two Lok Sabha defeats bookending a historic second term in the Assembly, the CPM now faces a puzzle. It must decipher why the electorate, with impeccable timing, has handed the party and its leadership a coin of retribution, seemingly repaying for the arrogance that has been meted out to them. The CPM leadership, as delusional as ever, proclaims now that it will simply clear up the "misapprehensions' people have, as if no wrong has ever been done. 

If the Sabarimala stance was the LDF’s Achilles’ heel in the 2019 elections and if the "Rahul Gandhi effect" spurred hopes of a Congress resurgence, there seems to be no plausible excuse for the dismal performance in the 2024 elections. This time, Left-leaning voters had no pressing reason to support the Congress-led UDF, given that both the UDF and the LDF were united in the INDIA front against Modi's team. Loyalty to political alliances was optional and it was proved that the electorate’s memory was much keener than the party's selective amnesia.

The CPM brought out the big guns this time, only for the electorate to knock them down with a resounding thud. Despite fielding heavyweights like the beloved former Health Minister in Vadakara, trade union stalwart Elamaram Kareem in Kozhikode, MV Jayarajan in Kannur, former education minister C Raveendranath in Chalakudy and former finance minister Thomas Isaac in Pathanamthitta, the voters handed out the harshest of rejections. Each candidate lost by staggering margins, leaving even the most steadfast party loyalists bewildered.  

The lone LDF candidate to narrowly escape defeat was Minister and local favorite K  Radhakrishnan, who managed to cling to victory in the party stronghold of Alathur. However, his modest win against Congress's Ramya Haridas, who charmed her way to victory last time against the not-much-favoured PK Biju of CPM, offers little cause for celebration within the CPM ranks. Radhakrishnan's triumph, seen by many as the swan song of his political career in the State, squashes any lingering hopes of him succeeding Pinarayi as the first Scheduled Tribe Chief Minister. Party insiders whisper that by elevating him now, he has been effectively sidelined. Had he failed in this Left fortress, it would have been the ultimate indignity for the party.

What the CPM utterly overlooked was the mounting indignation of the populace. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family have been mired in serious corruption allegations. In a surprising twist, it's the party leadership that is out on a frantic justification tour as if damage control is best left to those not directly under fire. Amidst a severe financial crisis, with the government deflecting blame onto the Centre and failing to disburse welfare pensions on time, they decided to launch the Navakerala Sadas. This initiative saw the Cabinet parading around the State in a state-of-the-art vehicle, initially claiming to listen to public grievances, only to later dismiss that. The CM's sudden indifference to black flags and protests became glaring, especially as the police and party cadres violently clashed with demonstrators. The CM even justified the cadres' brutality as a "life-saving act", a tactic that was echoed across college campuses. To top it all off, a party cadre was killed when making country bombs, and the High Court upheld life sentences for those convicted in the TP Chandrasekharan murder case. It was almost as if the CPM was orchestrating its own downfall, one misstep at a time.

The ordinary voter, witnessing this farcical parade, decided it was time to dish out some payback. Consequently, the CPM suffered significant losses even in its strongholds. Take, for example, the CM’s own Assembly constituency, where his arch-nemesis and KPCC president K. Sudhakaran achieved an astounding majority. The party’s vote share has plummeted to a dismal 25 per cent, with the LDF constituents faring just as miserably. After each defeat, the party scrambles to concoct excuses, letting some leaders run amok with baffling justifications. If the CPM continues to ignore the electorate's clear message, it will not be long before the political winds that swept West Bengal and Tripura blow down their way.      

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