LDF centres its campaign around Pinarayi

From a break from the past, front signals he is the next Chief Minister candidate

Feel good videos and inspirational memes released so far by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) to woo voters seem to feature Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan solely.

The ruling front’s mainstream and social media outreach seemed to have pushed the perception that Mr. Vijayan and none else is the LDF’s next Chief Minister candidate.

Many viewed the LDF’s apparent gambit to project Mr. Vijayan as its “trump card,” a break with the past. Customarily, the LDF has sidestepped feelers about the Chief Minister candidate during the campaign phase.

Tellingly, the LDF leaders had tiptoed around the question when “factionalism” was at its peak in the CPI(M) ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls. Both Mr. Vijayan and former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan were in the fray then.

Notably, on Sunday, LDF convener A. Vijayaraghavan invited Mr. Vijayan to accept the ruling coalition’s election catchphrase: “For Sure its the LDF.” At a stroke, the LDF appeared to signal continuity of leadership if voted to power.

By placing Mr. Vijayan at the centre of its re-election bid, the LDF could arguably open itself to the Opposition criticism that it has set the incumbent Chief Minister at the centre of a personality cult befitting an identity-centric monolithic party. The Congress and the BJP had often portrayed Mr. Vijayan as an authoritarian.

The LDF’s clear pitch for Mr. Vijayan as its next Chief Minister candidate has arguably put the onus on the United Democratic Front (UDF) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to indicate their choices for the post.

However, the UDF appeared hard-pressed given the galaxy of top leaders in the fray. They purportedly include former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran.

The NDA is also fielding an assemblage of top BJP leaders, making it potentially awkward for the coalition to identify any one person as its Chief Minister candidate. The names include Union Minister for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, former Governor of Meghalaya Kummanam Rajasekharan, BJP core committee members P.K. Krishnadas and M.T. Ramesh.

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