In Kerala, there is a change of power every five years, but this could not happen in this assembly election. Kerala chose to stay with the Left Democratic Front. The ruling front has given a humiliating defeat to the Congress-led UDF in the state. The alliance, which won 19 out of 20 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, won only 41 seats. The UDF’s performance was limited to only Ernakulam and Kottayam.
In fact, the UDF’s leading party Congress has performed the worst. Half of the 93 seats where the Congress contested were fielding new and young faces. Only 21 of them have won. The situation was similar in Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad Lok Sabha seat. Of the seven seats in which Wayanad campaigned extensively, Rahul lost three of the elections. Congress state president Mullappally Ramachandran described the defeat as unexpected.
In the southern districts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, the Congress won only three of the 25 seats. The biggest setback for the party has been in Thiruvananthapuram. Here Janpathipathya, a minor ally of LDF, Antony Raju of Kerala Congress defeated VS Shivakumar of Congress. S Sabarinathan, the young face of the Congress and a two-time legislator, lost to CPM local leader G Stephen, who had to face opposition from within the party. Also in the Alappuzha district of opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, the Congress victory was limited to his seat.
Congress had hoped to wave in its favor in coastal areas in the southern districts, as the fishermen community was angry with the LDF government over an agreement with US firms for deep-sea fishing. The Catholics of Alappuzha and Kollam were openly against the deal during the election, with the Congress hoping to gain in 40-odd coastal areas in Kerala. However, this did not happen.
Even in the districts of North Kerala, the Congress could not improve its position. In Kozhikode district, the party could not win a single seat. On the other hand, IUML won 17 out of 27 seats in which it retained its hold over the stronghold of Malappur district. Last time it contested 23 seats and won 18 seats.
The PJ Joseph-led Kerala Congress won only two of the 10 seats. The losing UDF leaders were KM Shaji (IUML), VT Balaram (Congress), Anil Akkara (Congress) and KS Sabarinathan (Congress).
This is the second setback for the Congress after its defeat in the local body elections in December. Many party leaders admitted that it was a do-or-die battle. After the December loss, the Congress fielded former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, making him the chairman of the election committee.