Wanted: A strong regional party in Kerala

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 16, 2011 10:04 hrs

You needn't be a political analyst to predict the result of the Assembly elections in Kerala. Even an average school child would tell you that it is the turn of the United Democratic Front (UDF) to come to power in the state.

Anti-incumbency factor has been at work in Kerala since 1977.  No one's betting on the lottery scam-hit LDF to defy history and return to power. So, the whole attention is on the Congress-led UDF.

Special: Kerala polls

With one scam tumbling out after another, the Congress might be going through a hard time at the Centre. But the prospects of the party appear to be bright in Kerala.

Both the UDF and the LDF are led by national parties - the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) respectively.  Both the parties have traditionally played the role of the big brother, sidelining regional parties like the Kerala Congress (Mani).

The KC (M) demanded 22 seats this time - as against the eleven seats it contested in the last polls.

The party argued that the Congress should consider the changed political scenario in the state and allot them more seats. The KC (M) had led the successful merger of its factions led by P J Joseph - which was with the LDF - and P C George last year. 

But the Congress was unrelenting. And the KC (M) had to settle for 15 seats.

It is a pity that parties born to represent regional aspirations remain at the mercy of the national parties.

These parties may demand more seats in the elections and more portfolios during ministry allocation. But their demands are rarely met.

When it comes to the Lok Sabha polls, the same step-motherly attitude continues. Parties which are focused on Kerala go unnoticed. It doesn't mean that the Congress or the Left parties are less loyal to the state. But we must realise that the allegiances of these parties are torn between national and regional interests.

The different factions in the Kerala Congress  -- Kerala Congress (Mani), Kerala Congress  (Joseph) , Kerala Congress (Balakrishna Pillai), Kerala Congress (Jacob) etc -- have been playing the second fiddle either in the UDF or in the LDF all these years. And they failed to represent Kerala at the national level.

The Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu or the TDP and other regional parties in Andhra have upheld the pride of the respective states at the national level. They have kept the Central Government in the balance many a time. And they have made a fair contribution to the affairs of the country too. These parties have made the national parties respect regional identities.

But in Kerala, none of the regional parties have managed to be counted at the national level. This indifference has virtually harmed the state - It has left Kerala as an insignificant strip of land at the southern tip of the country.

The so-called regional parties in the state should introspect what went wrong and why they are not the true representatives of the state at the national level.

The Kerala Congress has been considered as a byword for the Church even though other sections do have representation in it, especially the Nairs. As long as this tag remains, the KC can't represent the all sections in the state. It has to shed this by aggressively encompassing other communities, regions and people from different walks of life.

Also, the state needs new parties that also represent different sections.

A front - a third front - constituted by the different factions in the Kerala Congress and other regional parties is long overdue. They can represent each section or region in the assembly and at the same time be the true representative of the state at the national level.

However, there is little chance of a third front in this election since parties, which have the potential to form such a set up, will be going ahead with the servile attitude this time, too.

The leaders themselves have said the Kerala Congress 'split as it grew, and grew as it split.'  But neither their infighting nor even the semblance of their growth has done anything good for the state.

It is this lack of focus on the part of these regional parties that created the ever-recurring political mediocrity in the state - the rule of either the UDF or the LDF.  

In fact, the alternate rule has badly affected the state's development: One front starts a project and the other one stops it to start a new one - which would again be stopped by the former after five years.

It is high time Kerala escaped from the predictable political destiny. Only a strong third front will make it possible.

But are the regional party leaders prepared?

Ignore your loyalties to the old fronts and do something, if you can, to uphold the pride of Kerala and to bring about development and welfare in the state.  

Otherwise, give way for young blood!

Assembly elections: Lucky 13?

More from Sify: