By P. Sreekumaran
A new political outfit has burst on Kerala’s political landscape. The latest addition to the plethora of political organisations the State parades has been made by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the corporate-backed Twenty20, which have joined hands to challenge the two principal political fronts dominating Kerala’s political landscape for long.
The new alliance, christened People’s Welfare Alliance (PWA), has been floated in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and Sabu M Jacob, chief coordinator of Twenty20, at a function held at Kizhakkambalam near in Kochi on Sunday.
Speaking on the occasion, Kejriwal said the AAP had successfully brought change first in Delhi and then in Punjab. The next target is Kerala, Kejriwal said. The AAP Government in the national capital has offered free electricity, water, education and healthcare to the citizens of Delhi. Besides, bus travel was free for women, Kejriwal said, adding that if the people of Kerala wanted these facilities, then they should support the AAP. If we have formed governments in Delhi and Punjab, there is no reason why we won’t be able to repeat that performance in Kerala, too, thundered the Delhi CM. The people of Delhi have elected the AAP for the third time because of its good performance record. The party has proved that it was in a position to fight any major political alliance in an election, he pointed out.
Major political parties in the State have not reacted to the latest political development. While it can be said with certainty that the AAP-Twenty20 tie-up is not going to set the Periyar river by storm in the immediate future, it is a significant development which neither the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) nor the Congress-headed United Democratic Front(UDF) can ignore. The emergence of what is virtually a fourth front in the State can add to the tensions and uncertainties of Kerala politics. It is also true that the AAP) has its task cut out. The PWA will take a long time to emerge as a force to be reckoned with in State politics. Years and years of hard organization work awaits the new formation before it can hope to challenge the mainstream parties in the State.
Also, it is not easy for the Kejriwal-Sabu Jacob combine to repeat what the AAP Government did in the national capital. The conditions that obtain in Kerala and the political challenges the State poses are entirely different from the problems Delhi is faced with.
The new political alliance is obviously banking on the influence the Twenty20 wields in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam district. The panchayat is at present ruled by the Twenty20. The political ambitions of its chief Sabu Jacob are well known. True, Twenty20 put up an impressive performance in elections in the past. But it failed to cut much ice in the 2021 assembly polls although it polled a decent 14,000 votes. The performance was on par with the BJP which secured nearly 14,000 votes.
The first major test the PWA faces is in Thrikkakkara assembly by-election to be held towards the fag end of this month. The by-election has been necessitated by the death of Congress MLA PT Thomas. The Twenty20 polled 14,000 odd votes in the last assembly poll. But neither the AAP nor the Twenty20 has fielded candidates in the by-election.
The moot question is who will benefit from the absence of AAP and Twenty20 from the electoral race. The LDF thinks a big slice of the Twenty20 vote will go to its candidate. Likewise, the UDF is confident of securing the full support of Twenty20. So is the BJP. If the latest remarks and statements of Twenty20 chief Sabu Jacob is any indication, the LDF is unlikely to get a big chunk of its votes. After all, Sabu is cut up with the Pinarayi Government for the raids it conducted against Kitex Company which he owns. The Government’s so-called unhelpful attitude, Jacob had pointed out, had forced him to leave Kerala and invest in Telangana. The BJP thinks that the party stands to gain the most as the AAP and the Twenty20 are firmly opposed to both the LDF and the UDF.
Whatever the denouement, the emergence of a ‘fourth front’ will, in all probability, add to the prevailing confusion among various parties and fronts. The bipolar nature of Kerala polity is set to end with the coming together of the AAP and Twenty20, feel keen observers of Kerala’s political scene. Since the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has weakened considerably of late, the new political outfit could make inroads into the NDA’s vote-bank in a big way. While the new political formation may not make big gains in the short-term, its emergence cannot be ignored altogether as being of no consequence by the LDF and the UDF. (IPA Service)