With the Lok Sabha polls round the corner, the LDF has gone in for an expansion by including four parties. Three of the new entrants - Kerala Congress (B), Loktantrik Janata Dal, and Democratic Kerala Congress - have come from the UDF fold. Nonetheless, they have been cooperating with the LDF for nearly three years. The fourth party, Indian National League (INL), has been working with the LDF for a quarter century.
The decision to promote the four parties as constituents of the LDF was unanimously taken at the LDF meet held here on Wednesday. Many other parties, too, had given representations to be included as constituents but a decision on them would be taken only at a later stage. Even K R Gouri's JSS has been asked to stand in the queue.
The other parties that have sought constituent status in the LDF are: RSP (Leninist), RSP (Leftist), Forward Block, C K Janu's Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha, Aravindakshan faction of the CMP, Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party.
Political utility seems to have been the deciding factor in picking the four. Veerendra Kumar's Loktantrik Janata Dal had left the LDF in 2009 following bitter differences of opinion over seat sharing. However, the party had an uneasy bond with the UDF. Differences came to a head when the party failed to win the Palakkad Lok Sabha seat in 2014. The LDF was open to its return and had given Veerendra Kumar a Rajya Sabha seat. Given the BJP's clout in Palakkad, the political standing of Veerendra Kumar in the district could come in handy for the LDF.
The surprise of the day was the elevation of Kerala Congress (B). The LDF had earlier put forward the condition of merger for its acceptance. It wanted the Kerala Congress factions of Balakrishna Pillai and Skaria Thomas to merge before its claim to be considered. Thanks to ego issues, attempts at merger fell flat. However, the party's decision to snub the NSS seems to have endeared KC(B) to the LDF. Balakrishna Pillai's party, known to have strong ties with the NSS, has come out in favour of the 'Women's Wall'. Further, it is felt that the party could be decisive for the LDF's prospects in Kollam, Mavelikkara and Pathanamthitta.
KC(B) chairman Balakrishna Pillai said that his party would not stake claim for a ministership. “It was not to get a minister post that we have sought to be included in the LDF,” he said. Pillai also distanced his party from the ongoing Sabarimala agitation, and also from the NSS. “We are not a member of the Ayyappa Dharma Samrakshana Samithi. We are a political party. Our stand is the same as that of the LDF,” he said. “Even earlier, there were occasions when we had to take a stand against the NSS. Even in future if such decisions are to be taken we will not be hesitant to do so,” he added.
Democratic Kerala Congress was formed when Francis George and his followers broke away from Kerala Congress (M) in 2016. Ever since, the party has been with the LDF. The party is said to be influential in Kottayam and Idukki districts.
The LDF assessment is that the INL could decisively sway votes in its favour in Kasaragod. It would be especially helpful if a byelection takes place at Manjeshwaram.
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