Politics of Kerala

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This article deals with the local politics of Indian state of Kerala
Kiss of Love protest 2014
Vypin Strike

Political activity in the Indian State of Kerala takes place in a multi-party 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 have ever been held.

The background[edit]

Politics in Kerala was dominated by 2 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. The former two coalitions have been alternatively voted to power since 1982.From 2014 the Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance emerged as a strong contender. 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 been able to register its presence with one seat in Nemom [1] in the assembly in spite of the fact that it is the third largest party in Kerala after Congress and CPM with 17% votes in the Kerala Assembly Elections 2016. BJP alliance won a Loksabha Seat in 2004 election from Kerala through P.C. Thomas's Indian Federal Democratic Party. That was the first and last parliamentary electoral victory of a National Democratic Alliance member in the state. BJP has many MPs from Kerala since 2014 but has not been able to win a single Lok Sabha seat in Kerala. They have one central minister from Kerala Mr Vellamvelly Muraleedharan. BJP have 1500+ people's elected representatives and ruling many local body institutions now. 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 political scenario has changed in Kerala and currently majority of news events are happening with respect to actions taken by political parties in Kerala.[3]

Leftist inclination[edit]

The social thought and behavior of the State in general has a strong inclination towards Leftism and thus the Communist parties have made strong inroads in Kerala. The Malabar region, particularly Kannur and Palakkad are considered to be the heartland for Communist support. 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.[4] Indian National Congress also has a very strong presence in Kerala. The party has strong bases in Ernakulam and Kottayam regions.

Mural by Farmers' Union, Alappuzha
Ranadive Memorial, Alappuzha
Election campaign in Kerala
A rally by toddy worker's trade union

Regional parties[edit]

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is a communist leader
  • 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 retain 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, and hence became a state party, in post-independent India. The party has strongholds mostly in Muslim dominated districts like Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod, 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.[5]
  • 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., led by erstwhile CPIM veterans who were expelled from CPIM have joined with UDF.
  • The AIFB, founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which had associated with the LDF broken away from them and joined in the UDF in 2017. Now the AIFB is an active partner of UDF. AIFB is recruiting new units and going towards a new dimension of "Indian socialism" as was called by Netaji when Socialism came to India.
  • Kerala Dalit Federation
  • Indian Gandhiyan Party

Coalition politics[edit]

Constituencies of Kerala with district boundaries

The first coalition government in Kerala was formed in 1960 and was headed by Pattom A. Thanu Pillai. The alliance comprised PSP, Congress and Muslim League. Pillai resigned in February 1962 after being appointed as Punjab governor and R. Sankar of Congress became Chief Minister. He also resigned in September 1964 after a no-confidence motion was passed in the Assembly. After the 1965 election, no party was able to form a government due to the fractured nature of results. The assembly was dissolved and the state was under Presidents Rule. In the 1967 election, a seven-party alliance named Saptakakshi Munnani won the election. This coalition also did not last long. In the 1970 election, CPI and Congress led Aikya Munanni emerged victorious and continued in power till 1979.

In 1980s, two main political coalitions were formed: 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.[2]

The All India Students' Bloc(AISB), student wing of All India Forward Bloc(AIFB) is spearheading.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.[2] The Muslim Students Federation (msf) is the students wing of the Indian Union Muslim League.

Bandhs and Harthals[edit]

Vyttila junction during a harthal

Direct action and political violence has become the characteristics of Kerala society in India. The state treasury of Kerala has suffered losses of thousands of millions of rupees, thanks to the state staging over 100 hartals annually in recent times. A record total of 223 harthals were observed in 2006, resulting in a revenue loss of over 2000 crore.[6] There were around 363 of "Hartals", called by different political parties, between 2005 and 2012. Hartals are called for various reasons, political, economic and social.[7][8] According to the Organisor, Kerala has the highest level of loss of manhours due to industrial unrest and the state has organized the highest number of strikes and harthals in the country.[9]

Political violence in Kannur[edit]

Kannur is the most violent district in Kerala. During the last 45 years, about 180 people were killed because of political violence in Kannur district of Kerala.[10]

Kannur is historically linked with rebellion because Guerrilla King Pazhassi Raja fought against the British in this region. Kannur is the homeland of communist veterans like A K Gopalan, E K Nayanar and Azhikodan Raghavan. Most of the victims in political are from the toddy tapper community, which a branch of the Thiyya caste.

Most often the fight in Kerala is between CPIM and RSS [10]

Social cohesion[edit]

Kerala has been the first state in India to openly accommodate the Transgender community. From transgender pageants to sporting events Kerala strives to provide equal opportunities to the repressed. It was also the first state to pass and implement an exclusive policy for the social and economic growth of the transgender community, employed 23 in the recently operational Kochi Metro and opened a school where dropouts and aspirants could pursue their education barring gender stereotypes. High profile politicians and actors such as Shashi Tharoor, Pinarayi Vijayan, Aju Varghese and Vineeth Srinivasan to name a few, had expressed their disapproval publicly of the BJP enforced beef ban and the subsequent attacks in other states pertaining to the same issue. Kerala has been widely hailed as a state where people from every community happily coexists with Christian nuns dancing the "thiruvathira" which was traditionally a danceform prevalent amongst the upper-caste Hindu Nair community. The situation has changed a lot, the society is now much more tolerant to change, especially in the cities.

Kiss of Love protest[edit]

Kiss of Love protest is a non-violent protest against moral policing which started in Kerala, India, and later spread to other parts of India.[11][12][13][14][15] The movement began when a Facebook page called 'Kiss of love' called forth the youth across Kerala to participate in a protest against moral policing on 2 November 2014, at Marine Drive, Cochin.[16][17] The movement received widespread support with more than 154,404 'Likes' for the Facebook page.[18][19] After the initial protest in Kochi, similar protests were organised in other major cities of the country. It received opposition from various religious and political groups like Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, SDPI, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Sena and Ernakulam wing of Kerala Students Union.[20][21][22][23] On specific occasions but not exclusively, both the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court have made it clear that kissing in public is not an obscene act and no criminal proceedings can be initiated, for kissing in public, through landmark judgments.[24][25][26][27][28]

Election results[edit]

CPM office in Amarambalam, Nilambur

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 72 68 0 UDF (4)
2016 47 91 2 LDF (44)

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 98[29] +58
United Democratic Front 6,679,557 42.98 42 -57
Total (turnout 72.25%) 15,542,679 100 140

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BJP's O Rajagopal wins from Nemom, gives BJP its first seat in Kerala assembly". Hindustan Times. IANS. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "India". Australia: Refugee Review Tribunal. 19 March 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2019 – via archive.is.
  3. ^ "Onmanorama Kerala News - Latest News | Live Updates | Today's News Headlines | Manorama News in English". OnManorama. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  4. ^ Snapshots - India's final voting day BBC News
  5. ^ Shifting sands Frontline Volume 26 - Issue 08 :: 11-24 Apr. 2009
  6. ^ "Kerala: Hartals Own Country?" 6 July 2008
  7. ^ "363 Hartals in 7 years in Kerala!" - A News Report on 16-09-2012 from Deccan Chronicle
  8. ^ "India - 363 hartals in 7 years in Kerala!" - A News Report on 17-09-2012 from Pressenza
  9. ^ http://organiser.org/Encyc/2015/11/9/Kerala---God-s-Own-Country-Or--Godless-Country-.aspx
  10. ^ a b Warrier, Shobha (24 February 2016). "Is Kannur, India's political murder capital?". Rediff.com. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  11. ^ "'Kiss of Love' protests rattle Modi's conservative India". Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  12. ^ "'Kiss of Love' spreads to Kolkata". Zee News. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  13. ^ "'Kiss of Love' Campaign Spreads to Kolkata, Delhi - New America Media". Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  14. ^ K C, Ramesh Babu (29 October 2014). "'Kiss of Love' to protest moral policing in Kerala". Hindustan Times. HT Media Ltd. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  15. ^ Hashim, Farmis (3 November 2014). "Demonstrators kiss to protest 'moral policing' in Kerala". The Observers. France24. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  16. ^ Staff, FP (30 October 2014). "Kiss of Love: Kochi's version of Pink Chaddi campaign to fight moral policing". Firstpost. Network 18. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  17. ^ Philip, Shaju (28 October 2014). "Youth to mark Nov 2 as 'Kiss Day' to challenge moral policing in Kerala". The Indian Express. Indian Express Group. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  18. ^ https://www.facebook.com/kissoflovekochi:
  19. ^ "'Kiss of love' plan gets more support in Kerala". Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  20. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/Wary-Cops-Nab-Around-50-Kiss-of-Love-Protesters/2014/11/03/article2504805.ece:
  21. ^ http://www.deccanchronicle.com/141103/nation-current-affairs/article/kiss-love-protest-police-blamed-giving-free-hand-miscreants:
  22. ^ "Kerala's 'Kiss of Love' Protest, Planned for Sunday, Draws Opposition". NDTV.com. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  23. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/student-organisations-condemn-kiss-of-love/article6551314.ece:
  24. ^ "SC clean chit to Gere in Shilpa kissing row". IBNLive. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  25. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Richard Gere cleared of obscenity". Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  26. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - India couple's kiss 'not obscene'". Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  27. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Kissing-in-public-by-married-couple-not-obscene-HC/articleshow/4066941.cms:
  28. ^ http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090218/jsp/opinion/story_10552589.jsp:
  29. ^ "LDF marches to biggest-ever win in Kerala Assembly elections". India Today. Retrieved 24 March 2019.

External links[edit]