- Results may depend on how Muslims, Christians, who make up 45% of the population, vote
- Both the UDF and LDF are wooing the communities
Assembly election results in Kerala have of late depended a great deal on the voting patterns of Muslims and Christians, the state’s two main minority groups who make up close to 45 per cent of the population. This time the Christians, especially the Roman Catholics, are also reportedly upset with the governing LDF over statements made by CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.
Father Paul Thelakkat, spokesperson of the powerful Roman Catholic Congregation Syro Malabar Church, says that “traditionally, the community has sided with non-communal and secular democratic parties...the LDF has created some ill-feeling among the Catholics”. This has mostly to do with the LDF refusing to let private players into the education sector. Still, it remains to be seen if the faithful back the same side that the church wants them to.
The Muslims, meanwhile, are mainly represented by the Indian Union Muslim League, a constituent of the opposition UDF. It faced a bit of a setback last time around but is hoping to win around 16 of the 23 seats it’s contesting this time. To counter this, the CPI(M) has opened up communication channels with a few Muslim groups, even allotting four seats to the newly formed National Secular Democratic Party led by P.T.A. Raheem, a sitting MLA, raising hopes of a dent in the IUML’s votebank in north Kerala.
CM V.S. Achuthanandan opened up another flank recently with a claim that the UDF, if voted to power, was planning to nominate IUML general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty (of ice-cream parlour case fame) as deputy CM—which would be a first in Kerala’s history. This seems like a calculated move from the CPI(M)—telling Hindus that a vote for the UDF implies electing Oommen Chandy, a Christian, as CM and Kunhalikutty, a Muslim, as his deputy. However, the Marxists themselves have lost some credibility after it emerged that Pinarayi Vijayan held a clandestine political meeting with Jamaat-e-Islami Hind representatives, a group the party has officially branded as a “communal Muslim outfit”.