After massive LS debacle, Pinarayi govt has muted 3rd anniversary

The ruling Left Front, which had expected an impressive victory, could win only one seat.

Thiruvananthapuram: Shaken by its severe drubbing in Lok Sabha polls in Kerala, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government in Kerala observed its third anniversary Saturday sans any celebration or announcement of new projects.

The ruling Left Front, which had expected an impressive victory, could win only one seat as the opposition Congress-UDF swept the April 23 election, winning resoundingly 19 of the 20 seats in the state.

The lone CPI(M)-led government in the country had organised mass public meetings, cultural fiestas and exhibitions to mark its first and second anniversaries on May 25.

It had also followed a practice of announcing new schemes and projects on the occasion. Official sources, however, suggested any celebration was avoided as the model code of conduct was in place for two more days.

But the unexpected poll jolt seems to have forced the Left Front to think otherwise. A host of issues — consolidation of minority and majority votes, apparent poor handling of flood rehabilitation, the stand on the Sabarimala issue and a possible disaffection for the chief minister's style of functioning — critics pointed out could be behind the rout of the LDF candidates.

However, CM Pinarayi Vijayan, in a lengthy article released to the media, claimed his government has already fulfilled most of its promises which were to be realised during his five-year tenure.

He said his government was entering its fourth year with the "satisfaction" of implementing various projects which are turning to be a model for the country.

Vijayan claimed Kerala, in the last three years, had topped in various sectors, including improving law and order and elimination of corruption, and healthcare.

The chief minister also listed the launch of the "Loka Kerala Sabha" and the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIF)'s recent listing of debt masala bonds on the London Stock Exchange among his government's achievements.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) state secretariat here said there has been an "erosion" in the traditional vote base of the Left Front. Without mentioning the issue of entry of menstrual-age women into the Sabarimala temple, the secretariat said in a press release that the vote figures show right-wing forces succeeded in "misleading" a section of believers.

Describing the massive defeat as a "temporary setback," the secretariat also said the party would examine the reasons that led to the drain of its traditional vote base and would make a united effort to regain the lost support.

Vijayan, who talked to media Saturday for the first time after the poll debacle, told reporters that the poll result was not against the state government and only a temporary setback.

He claimed the government decided to implement the September 28 apex court verdict permitting women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple had not affected the poll result. "The government still enjoys people's support.

The present poll result is not the evaluation of the performance of the state government. It is true that there was an erosion in our vote bank.

We will examine the factors that led to this," Vijayan said, adding there will be no change in his style of functioning. The LDF won only from Alapuzha, where A M Ariff won by around 10,000 votes.

It faced embarrassment as its traditional bastions — Alathur, Palakkad, Attingal and Kasaragod — were wrested by the UDF.

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