While the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala could not put its house in order, the Indian National Congress is making moves to strengthen its position in Kerala and West Bengal.
The failed leaders of the CPI (M) Pinarayi Vijayan and V. S. Achuthanandan do not have the grace to step down owing responsibility for the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls. It is not just that they don’t believe in democratic norms. They are entangled in a bitter battle that none could withdraw without conceding defeat. At least for the time being, the party is unable to push them out, or end the quarrel.
Party general secretary Prakash Karat is in no position to assert himself with the West Bengal unit demanding his resignation over the poll debacle. The decision to withdraw support to UPA Government before th elections has cost the party a share in power at the Centre. Now, the Congress-Trinamool combine would leave no stone unturned to wrest power from the Left in West Bengal.
The Congress has already taken steps to consolidate its position in both the States. It has named eight members of the Parliament from West Bengal and six from Kerala as Ministers. Two of them each are of Cabinet rank. The portfolios allotted to them are also significant. Minister of State E. Ahamed gets Railways while Minister of State K. V. Thomas gets Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies. These are areas in which the State had been continuously accusing the Centre of neglect. It is clear that the Centre is not for confrontation with the State Government. On the other hand, it plans to win over the people.
One only have to recall the performance of BJP leader O. Rajagopal in 2004 elections to assess the opportunity that is opening up before E. Ahamed. Mr. Rajgopal’s contributions to the State as Minister of State for Railways had won acclaim and at least a lakh votes from politically uncommitted voters in Trivandrum.
Mullappally Ramachandran may also been tactically placed in the Home Ministry. He can address the concerns of Keralites about law and order and terrorism. If needed, he can also take on the CPI (M) politically over its handling of the police.