Politics of Kerala

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This article deals with the local politics of Indian state of Kerala

Political activity in the Indian State of Kerala takes place in a multi-party democratic framework, within the overall context of the National Politics of India. The state holds an invariable position of having the largest politically aware and active population in the Country. The state Legislature is unicameral and has a membership of 141, where 140 are elected and one is nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. It has 20 seats in the Lok Sabha and 9 seats in the Rajya Sabha. Elections are also held to choose representatives to the civic bodies at various levels within the State. and The State has consistently come out with a voter turnout of 70% or above in almost all elections which was ever held.

Politics in Kerala is dominated by two coalition fronts: the Communist Party of India(Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Indian National Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) since late 1970s. These two coalitions have been alternatively voted to power since 1982. Most of the major political parties in Kerala, except for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), belong to one or the other of these two alliances and have in the past shifting allegiances a number of times. In Kerala, it is difficult for a single party to contest and win even a single seat, because the voter perception is towards voting for a front. The BJP has not been able to register its presence in the assembly in spite of the fact that it is the third largest party in Kerala after Congress and CPM.[1] According to 2011 Kerala Legislative Assembly election results, the UDF has a majority in the State Assembly (72/140).

The political alliances have stabilized strongly in such a manner that, with rare exceptions, most of the coalition partners stick their loyalty to the respective alliances. As a result of this, ever since 1979, the power has been clearly alternating between the two fronts without any exceptions. However, till then the political scenario in Kerala was characterized by continually shifting alliances, party mergers and splits, factionalism within the coalitions and within political parties, and the formation of a numerous splinter groups.[2]

The social thought and behavior of the State in general has a strong inclination towards Leftism and thus the Communist parties have strong inroads in Kerala. The Malabar region, particularly Kannur and Palakkad are considered to heartland of Communist parties. The Kollam and Alapuzha districts, where trade unions have very strong presence, are generally inclined towards the Left parties; though the UDF have won elections from the constituencies of these districts several times. The largest Communist party in terms of membership is CPI(M) and the second is CPI. Kerala was the first Indian state where the communists were voted to power.[3]

The Indian National Congress have a very strong presence in Kerala. The party has strong bases in Thrissur, Ernakulam and Kottayam regions. Even though the Congress party at the National level is more inclined towards Centrism, in the State it is also lenient towards Socialism or rather a Socialistic outlook than in the other parts of the Country.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party has no strong presence in Kerala, the party has a very strong base in Thiruvananthapuram. In fact, the party loses here only by marginal votes.

Other popular regional parties are:

Velikkakathu Sankaran Achuthanandan
Oommen Chandy
  • Indian Union Muslim League, is a powerful pro-Muslim community oriented party, which was started as Muslim League prior to partition of India, yet decided to remain their allegiance to India after partition, when the original Muslim League went to Pakistan. The IUML-Kerala unit is the only Muslim League unit, which declared its allegiance and loyalty to India, hence became a state party, in post-independent India. The party has strongholds mostly in Muslim dominated districts like Malappuram. and they form the second largest party within UDF. Mass population of Muslims in Malappuram supports the Indian Union Muslim League in most of the elections.[4]
  • Kerala Congress, which has more than 4 denominations, after breaking away from original party, has strong influence among settlement populations in hilly regions. The various Kerala Congress denominations are primarily patronized by Syrian Christian community mostly in Central Travancore areas like Kottayam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Muvattupuzha. Today, most of Kerala Congress parties are with UDF.
  • Socialist groups, consisting of several small fragmented parties like NCP, SJD-S, JDS, Congress-S, are mainly pro-center left socialist parties having very limited influences in few pocket areas. Most of the socialist groups are with LDF, though at few instances, some of them changed their loyalties to UDF.
  • Communist parties, consists of various communist parties, which have broken away from CPIM which mostly are Center left parties and few are extreme left. While a few centre left parties like RSP have joined with LDF, those broken away from CPIM, like CMP, JSS etc., lead by erstwhile CPIM veterans who were expelled from CPIM have joined with UDF.

Political Fronts[edit]

Constituencies of Kerala with district boundaries

The two main political coalitions in Kerala are the leftist Left Democratic Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Centrist United Democratic Front, led by the Indian National Congress. Since the early 1980s these two coalitions have alternated in government with neither Front able to gain re-election for a second term. Clashes between supporters of the two coalitions have occurred periodically. Both the INC and the CPI(M) have accused the other of corruption, promoting or condoning political violence, and "the general breakdown of law and order" during their periods in government.[5]

The Student Federation of India (SFI) is the student arm of the CPI(M), while the Kerala Student Union (KSU) is a pioneer of the students’ movement of the INC. The two major parties and their student wings have a long history of enmity in Kerala.[6]

Election results[edit]

Results for the Kerala Legislative Assembly have been:

Year UDF LDF Others Government (majority)
1982 77 63 0 UDF (14)
1987 61 78 1 LDF (16)
1991 90 48 2 UDF (40)
1996 59 80 1 LDF (20)
2001 99 40 1 UDF (59)
2006 42 98 0 LDF (56)
2011 73 67 0 UDF (6)

e • d Summary of the April 22, April 29 and May 3, 2006 Kerala Legislative Assembly election results
Parties and blocs Votes % Seats +/–
Left Democratic Front 7,558,834 48.63 99 +56
United Democratic Front 6,679,557 42.98 40 -56
Total (turnout 72.25%) 15,542,679 100 140


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