Congress commences dissection of Assembly poll defeat

PAC urges members to keep criticism within party fora

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee’s (KPCC) political affairs committee (PAC) on Friday commenced the painful process of dissecting the party’s defeat at the hands of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the Assembly polls.

The details about the internal deliberations were elusive and clouded in speculation. Nevertheless, there were reportedly some attempt to play the blame game.

KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran decried the bid to scapegoat him. Few leaders reportedly condemned Hibi Eden’s “public denunciation” of Mr. Ramachandran as a “sleeping president”.

The PAC urged members to keep criticism within party fora. Mr. Ramachandran said he would step down if the All India Congress Committee (AICC) demanded.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who chaired the election management and strategy committee, owned up responsibility for the Congress’s poor showing.

Congress leaders felt the LDF benefited from a marked reluctance among voters to change the government mid-pandemic. Sabarimala issue and corruption charges failed to dent the LDF.

Some felt Muslim votes had gravitated towards the LDF in central and southern Kerala. The LDF had projected itself as a better counter to the Bharatiya Janata Party than the Congress.

The LDF also attracted a larger share of Christian voters. Dalit and backward class voters maintained their traditional fealty to the LDF. However, the United Democratic Front kept its traditional supremacy among Hindu forward caste voters.

Some leaders felt that the Congress had risked projecting itself as the ideological echo chamber of the BJP by “harping on about Sabarimala”. The subject also failed to make any discernible impression on Hindu voters.

In hindsight, the party’s “recriminatory campaign” moored to the UAE gold smuggling case made little impression. The pandemic-hit population seemed more bothered about livelihood and well-being issues.

A few leaders felt the Congress had failed in communicating its secular and development-oriented liberal agenda effectively. Its campaign was trapped in the political themes well past their shelf life. The emotive issues had a scarce bearing on the people’s lives as they weathered the pestilence.

National leaders had failed to impact the campaign as they did during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, the BJP and the LDF had swapped votes to defeat the Congress across the State. The PAC would continue on Saturday.

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