In Kerala’s coalition politics, speculation rife about IUML’s next move

The Kerala Congress is predominantly a Christian political party and the IUML is a Muslim political formulation. — IANS

Arun Lakshman

Thiruvananthapuram, July 23 (IANS) Kerala has always been a testing laboratory for political formulations and during the late 1960s, the state experienced the politics of coalitions.

CPI-M leader and the first Chief Minister of Kerala, late EMS Namboodiripad who was later the general secretary of the party, had experimented with the United Front government or had headed a seven party coalition in his second stint as Chief Minister in 1967.

EMS, in fact, made history by becoming the first democratically elected Communist Chief Minister when he won in 1957.

In 1967 the United Front government of EMS Namboodiripad comprised of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI-M, Communist party of India (CPI), Sanghata Socialist Party (SSP), Muslim League (MUL), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Karshaka  Thozhilali Party (KTP) and Kerala Socialist Party (KSP).

The coalition had a comfortable majority of 117 members out of 133 members and EMS was sworn in as Chief Minister of the state on March 6,1967. However internal dissensions led to the fall of the government and EMS resigned on October 24,1969.

C. Achutha Menon was sworn in as the Chief Minister for a second term on October 4, 1970. and continued till 25 March, 1977, as there were no elections during the Emergency period.

The government headed by Achutha Menon included Congress leader K. Karunakaran and Muslim League stalwart C.H. Mohammed Koya.

Since that time ,there has not been single party rule in Kerala and the state witnessed coalition governments with differing political ideologies but uniting together for a common goal.

The coalition politics of Kerala is now more organized with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the CPI-M on the one side and the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Congress on the other side. Interestingly the CPI-M led LDF has parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress-S while the UDF has a revolutionary party, the RSP and the Forward Bloc and the Communist Marxist Party (CMP).

While the NCP, Congress-S, RSP, CMP and Forward Bloc are small parties, the big time parties like the Congress and the CPI-M do include these parties due to the charisma of their leaders. Parties with a Congress lineage like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress-S joining the CPI-M coalition was a shrewd political move to have the Congress minded voters  vote for the left coalition.

In a similar vein, the Congress also has the red parties in its fold with the RSP, CMP and the Forward Bloc being part of the UDF.

With the CPI-M led LDF government under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan returning to power for a second consecutive term in 2021, there are calls for roping in the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) into the left fold and discussions had taken place regarding this.

It may be recalled that the powerful Christian political party, the Kerala Congress which has always stood with the Congress, had left the UDF and joined the Left Front. This shift of the Kerala Congress led by Jose K Mani, MP, has come as a windfall for the Left parties in Central Kerala which has a huge Christian population.

Even though the Muslim League leaders have denied any move to join the Left Front, sources in both the camps told IANS that such a move cannot be ruled out.

There is a general feeling among the Muslim community of the state that to counter the BJP-led Hindutva movement, it is the CPI-M that is more equipped than the Congress and hence supporting the CPI-M led front would not erode the core Muslim vote bank of the IUML.

While the CPI-M is the biggest political party in the state with a well oiled party machinery, an alliance with the IUML would help it to sweep North Kerala and would be the beginning of the end of the Congress in Kerala.

Political analyst and Congress observer Roy Mathew while speaking to IANS said,” The IUML is a strong political party which has a clear political ideology and there is no chance of that party leaving the Congress led UDF.”

Bigger parties like the CPI-M and the Congress are entering into a coalition with the smaller political parties as the background of parties like the Kerala Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League helped these parties gain the confidence and support of the communities these parties were associated with.

The Kerala Congress is predominantly a Christian political party and the IUML is a Muslim political formulation.

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