The decision of the Kerala Congress led by P. J. Joseph to quit the Left Democratic Front comes as no surprise. Nor is the opposition to its merger with the Kerala Congress (M) in the United Democratic Front.
The move follows total disenchantment of the Church with the LDF dispensation. The Kerala Congress has been told in no uncertain terms by Church leaders that it would not find support if it contested the elections from the LDF camp. So the hurried decisions to decamp. The LDF too is not keen to press the Kerala Congress to remain in the Front as the party would be worthless without the ability to pull-in Christian votes. So, this is divorce by mutual consent despite CPI (M)’s accusations of betrayal.
The Kerala Congress led by P. C. George has already found refuge in the Kerala Congress (M) though latter’s leader K. M. Mani was the bête noire of George for long. Another Kerala Congress group led by R. Balakrishna Pillai is contemplating admission to the Congress. The Jacob group is back in the UDF after some dilly-dallying with the LDF.
The perception that the electoral prospects of the LDF are dim for the coming elections is an added reason for constituents quitting the LDF. Even CPI would like to quit if it had an option.
Extinction of species:
The larger picture is quiet depressing for small political parties of Kerala. Kerala has seen extinction of several parties such as the SSP, KSP, KTP, PSP, NDP and SRP. The Democratic Indira Congress led by K. Muraleedharan had to immolate itself and seek refuge in the NCP. Now, Muraleedharan has quit the NCP too and is waiting at the door steps of the Congress for entry.
The RSP splinter group in the UDF has found accommodation in the JSS led by K. R. Gouriamma. But the question is whither JSS after Gouriamma. The Congress (S), Janata Dal factions, RSP and even the CPI have also become threatened species in Kerala politics.
Bereft of ideology:
Regional parties such as the Kerala Congresses are losing ground in Kerala, bereft of any ideology or agenda other than capturing or staying in power. However, united, the Kerala Congress is bound to improve its electoral position in the coming Assembly election. Otherwise, leaders such as Mani, P. C. George, Joseph and Mons would have found the going tough in their constituencies.
Trouble for Congress:
The Congress will do better not to spare any additional seats for the United Kerala Congress. It is seeking to improve its bargaining position during seat division by allowing the entry of Balakrishna Pillai and his son into the party. Muraleedharan would also eventually find a place in the Congress if the situation gets tough.