CPM takes stock of poll reverses, Kerala unit blames Sabarimala row

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New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is reviewing the Lok Sabha election results which point to erosion of its support base, primarily in West Bengal and Kerala. Its Kerala unit has identified that the row over women's entry into the Sabarimala temple had alienated the Hindu devotees from the party, leading to its worst defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The Kerala wing pointed out this in the report submitted by the state secretariat during the polit buro (PB) meeting that began on Sunday.

The CPM unit of the southern state, which is the sole state in the country where it is in power, was criticised for failing to anticipate that the faithful and the minorities would abandon the party, causing a massive decline in the number of votes.

However, the Kerala leadership justified the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF)'s stand on the Sabarimala row. They contended that the government, as a progressive organisation, tried to implement the Supreme Court order that allowed women of all age groups to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who gave his opinion on the poll debacle, returned from Delhi on Sunday itself. He is in the state to take part in the Kerala Assembly session that began on Monday.

The meet will now discuss on why the party failed to win votes even in CPM bastions in Kerala. Even within the party, criticisms have been raised against the leadership for failing to ensure victories in Palakkad, Alathur, Kasaragod, and Attingal constituencies. The LDF was able to secure victory only in Alappuzha among the 20 seats in Kerala.

In Kerala, the combined power of the CPM, CPI and other allies of the LDF couldn't even garner votes that opponent Congress, which heads the rival United Democratic Front (UDF), alone fetched in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. Congress could secure 37.27% of the votes, while the CPM-led LDF was able to win only 35.15% polled in the state. In one-third of the constituencies, the margin of votes between the UDF and LDF candidates is more than 10 per cent. In Wayanad, where Congress chief Rahul Gandhi contested, the difference is as high as 40%. The other big margins are: Idukki (19%), Ernakulam (17%), Alathur and Thiruvananthapuram (16% each), Kollam (15%), Chalakudy (13%), and Kottayam (12%).  

These wide victory margins points to the scale of the historic victory Congress managed in the state even as the party was routed elsewhere in the country, except Punjab and Tamil Nadu. The CPM leadership in Kerala is worried over the drubbing in the 2019 polls as the statistics of the past elections show that there was only minor difference between the two fronts.

At the PB meet on Sunday, reports from other states were also submitted. The meet also held discussions about the party being cornered in West Bengal.

The CPM central committee will meet in the first week of June.

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