The local body elections are round the corner and the electioneering is in full swing all across Kerala. The left front which seemed unassailable a few months back is on the backfoot and the opposition UDF is well placed to make gains. But the irony is that, it is not the Congress party but the Muslim league which is going to get a shot in its arm this time especially in the regions with sizable Muslim population which are contiguous to Malappuram District.
The relation between congress and the Muslim league has been a one sided affair for years, especially in Palakkad and Thrissur districts. Though the league has no party organisation or support base in the area it has been able to win seats at congress’s expense for some time now. Take for example Chalavara panchayat in Ottapalam taluk. Here in the last local body election out of the 15 wards, Being a left bastion 10 went to the CPI(M), 3 went to Muslim league and one each to congress and the BJP. In the panchayat though the UDF had 4 ward members, congress just had one, same as that of the new entrant BJP. This parasitic relation has been the case in Pattambi, Ottapalam, Mannarkkad, Thalappilly and Chavakkad Taluks. The fact is that in Mannarkkad and Chavakkad now league is the senior partner.
How does congress, which used to be a strong competition to the CPI(M) with MPs like K R Narayanan come to this state?. The answer is nothing but the communalization of politics in the last two decades. You might call Muslim league secular but as its name suggests, it’s interests lies with a particular community. Hence during elections they would ask for seats where there is a significant Muslim population(not Majority) and leave the rest to congress to fight it out. In regions like Palakkad where left has utter domination, the path to victory is often difficult. Moreover some of the congress votes from the majority community have slowly moved to the BJP over alleged minority appeasement, making it difficult for congress to win. This has resulted in congress becoming a party which is finding it difficult to get people for basic electioneering.
As in the rest of the country, congress is on a free fall here too. But it is not due to the leadership crisis but due to the appeasement of its allies. If the party is to remain relevant it will have to stand up for itself and fight for what it deserves or else it will be reduced to the position of just another constituent of the UDF.