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Explained: CPM list of candidates establishes Pinarayi clout, puts pressure on hidebound Congress

The list again demonstrates the control CM Pinarayi Vijayan wields over the CPM as well as the government. There weren't even stray voices of rebellion against the decision to put a two-term ceiling for sitting legislators.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: March 16, 2021 12:32:32 pm
CPM Acting State Secretary A Vijaraghavan announcing party's candidates for Assembly elections at Thiruvanathapuram.

Reading the CPM’s list of 83, released on Wednesday:

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A crop of new leaders

As the party took the unprecedented decision to not give tickets to legislators who have had two consecutive terms in the Assembly, left out were several senior leaders. However, the average age remains on the higher side, with 57 out of the 83 candidates above the age of 50, and 24 older than 60. Only four candidates are below 30. Four candidates had lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

While not a major generational shift, the decision allows the CPM to bring a new batch of leaders to electoral politics. It also sends a message to the electorate as well as the cadres that the party is above individuals.

Pinarayi’s stamp

The list again demonstrates the control CM Pinarayi Vijayan wields over the CPM as well as the government. There weren’t even stray voices of rebellion against the decision to put a two-term ceiling for sitting legislators. This means that the LDF will end up seeking a mandate for the initiatives of the Pinarayi government, rather than of a legislator or a minister. His son-in-law Riyas, the DYFI all-India president who once lost a Lok Sabha election, has been fielded from Beypore in Kozhikode.

The change of faces also helps the CPM tackle anti-incumbency in a state that swings between the LDF, UDF.

Impact on politics

If the CPM decision of fielding new faces bears fruit, it will be a game-changer. It would not just help the CPM attract younger, talented leaders, who can be hopeful of rising to the top, but also put pressure on other parties to do the same — specifically the Congress.

Why the Independents

The CPM is backing as many as nine Independents, seven of them Muslims, either in Malappuram or Kozhikode — the districts with the highest Muslim population. This shows the CPM has not been able to groom own leaders to directly take on the IUML.

Women, UDF rebels

Of the CPM’s 12 women candidates, eight are first-timers. One of them is R Bindu, the wife of LDF convenor and CPM state secretary A Vijayaraghavan, who had earlier been Thrissur Municipal Corporation Mayor.

The list includes rebels from the Congress such as M S Vishwanathan, who has got the ticket from Sulthan Bathery; and P V Sreenijan, the son of former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, fielded from Kunnathunad.

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