UDF wins Kerala, but loses to Achuthanandan

By Ajith Vijay Kumar | Updated: May 13, 2011, 18:51 PM IST

The rational Malayalee doesn’t believe in surprises. No political dispensation has ever been voted back to power for a second consecutive term in the God’s Own Country, so as per the custom, Left Democratic Front had to go in 2011. <br><br>
The Secretariat complex in Thiruvananthapuram, originally constructed as the Durbar Hall for Travancore Kingdom, has stood witness to this tradition since 1957, when the first democratically elected Communists under the legendary EMS Namboodiripad entered its hallowed precincts, only to be blown away by an anti-red wave. <br><br>
The story keeps repeating as if on auto refresh. Now the citizenry that’s always gleeful for being called as the “most educated” in country has chosen the Congress and its allies as their custodian for the next five years….or have they? <br><br>
The UDF has just about managed to squeeze through the doors leading to the corridors of power despite the so-called anti-incumbency factor that was supposed to working in their favour. <br><br>
Clearly, they seem to not have gauged the strength of the “Achuthanandan factor”. Yes, you have read it right, the 86-year-old Communist heavyweight from the backwaters of Alappuzha, whom the CPM apparatchiks love to hate, had occupied the centrestage all through the run-up to the polls. <br><br>
It was evidently clear that the election was less a battle between the LDF and the UDF but more of a showdown between Achuthanandan and others. <br><br>
Even party candidates owing allegiance to his bête noire, the all powerful state secretary Pinrayi Vijayan, wanted the Chief Minister to campaign for them owing to pro-people no nonsense crusader image. <br><br>
And the results prove that their belief was not misplaced. <br><br>
‘Acchu Mama’ to Kerala’s famed mimicry artists; Achuthanandan’s appeal is an enigma as much for the Opposition as it has been for his own party colleagues. <br><br>
He has taken on his critics within and outside the party with impunity. Many tried to cut him to size but failed and instead ended up making Achuthanandan even more popular amongst the masses. <br><br>
As in 2006, this time too, the CPI-M bosses declined to give him a ticket to contest the election, but had to retract both times after hundreds took to the streets in his support. <br><br>
Now in retrospect, it seems that party General Secretary Prakash Karat got it all wrong and faces the ignominy of having to lord over the demise of the Left - the only saving grace being the spirited performance by Achuthanandan. <br><br>
Poetic justice as they say, Karat always backed the anti-Achuthanandan lobby led by Vijayan, but will have to now fall back upon the achievements of the octogenarian leader. <br><br>
Being the rigid cadre-based party CPM is, it is unlikely that Karat would be shown the door, however, it’s time the comrades go back to grass-root communist politics of which Achuthanandan has been an eager student. <br><br>
LDF may have lost the elections, but the UDF can’t claim ownership of their wafer lead. <br><br>
Moreover, the fact that most of the senior ministers in the Achuthanandan government have won their seats, it’s clear that there was no apparent wave against the incumbent government. <br><br>
Only the Keralites five-year itch is to be blamed.