Sabarimala row, Vijayan's style blamed for Left rout



Kerala's ruling CPI-M on Friday gave enough indications that the Sabarimala issue and even Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's leadership were to blame for the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.

The party's Kerala state Secretariat dismissed Vijayan's contention that the Sabarimala row was never an issue in the campaign.

The CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front won just one of the state's 20 seats, down from 8 in 2014, with the Congress-led UDF bagging the rest. The BJP-led NDA came second in only Thiruvananthapuram and third everywhere else.

Vijayan, who led the campaign in Kerala for the Left, is yet to comment on the debacle, except saying that the LDF campaigned hard against the BJP but the Congress-led UDF reaped the advantage.

At the Secretariat meeting in which Vijayan also took part, party leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan presented a preliminary report which pointed out that shifting of the minority community votes to the UDF was not the only reason for the virtual washout and that the Sabarimala controversy too was a major issue even in LDF strongholds.

The Secretariat decided to call a meeting of the state committee by the end of May to discuss the rout.

On Friday, veteran CPI-M leader M.M. Lawerence, pulling no punches, said Sabarimala was definitely an issue and even women in the party were not able to accept the manner in which the Vijayan government handled it.

"The style of putting across things matters a lot as that (which) has to be done in a particular manner... if not, it can be misinterpreted. Such style has to change," he said, hinting that Vijayan's "arrogance" had to be reined in.

RSP leader N.K. Premachandran, who retained his Kollam seat as part of the UDF, also slammed Vijayan.

"He never cared for the Left and the beating that his party took is just because of his arrogance," he said.

Both Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala and state BJP President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai said that it was time for Vijayan to quit.

CPI Rajya Sabha member and former state Minister Binoy Viswam also opined that leaders should always ensure that they are not above people.

CPI-M candidate M.B. Rajesh, who was aiming for a hat trick of wins from Palakkad but suffered a shock reverse, however claimed that there was "some conspiracy" behind the defeat of the Left. IANS