With coalition dynamics working in their favour, minor parties having no big stakes in the State’s polity appear to be giving a tough time to both the CPI(M) and the Congress ahead of seat-sharing for the upcoming Assembly polls.
The CPI(M)-CPI combine of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), which had successfully steered the coalition to victory in the recent three-tier local body polls after experimenting with a rainbow coalition, has been facing the trouble right from the beginning with the entry of the Jose K. Mani faction of the Kerala Congress (M), and also after the induction of the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) that had abandoned the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Despite local rifts, the CPI(M) managed to smartly juggle its partners in the local body polls in which 21,865 seats were available in grama panchayats, block panchayats, district panchayats, municipalities and corporations. However, with only 140 seats in the Assembly, each constituent demands a bigger share to stay afloat in the State’s political space.
The CPI(M) had failed to stave off the situation when the Janata Dal (Secular) split, and now the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is likely to bid adieu to the Left coalition. Incidentally, the JD(S) and the NCP have three legislators each and these parties secured 1.5% and 1.2% votes respectively of the total vote share in the 2016 Assembly elections.
Since small margins could make a huge difference in the Assembly polls, the CPI(M) and the Congress are forced to rely upon their constituents.
More than engaging in multilateral bargaining within the fronts, minor parties have been demanding a bigger share in the electoral pie in the run-up to the polls.
Kadannappally Ramachandran, as Congress (S) nominee, got a Ministerial berth after his party received just 0.27% of the total votes. Similar is the case with NCP leader A.K. Saseendran, who was inducted into the Cabinet. In the UDF camp, the Congress party offered 24 seats to the Indian Union Muslim League, which won 18 seats and obtained 7.4% of the popular votes. The Kerala Congress (M) which won six seats was able to muster only 4% of the total votes.
The Janata Dal (United) not only drew a blank after contesting seven seats, but received only 1.5% of the total votes, the same as its socialist rival, JD (S) which was in the LDF, although the party nominees won from three segments.
Now, the Congress has to face a daunting task to satisfy the NCP after its possible entry into the UDF, as well as the P.J. Joseph faction of the KC(M).