Poll schedule to spur Kerala fronts to wrap up seat-sharing pacts
Thiruvananthapuram: With Kerala slated to elect its new Assembly on April 6, the state's three political fronts will be racing against time to finalise their seat-sharing arrangements.
In the outgoing Assembly, the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front had 91 seats, while the Congress-led United Democratic Front had 47, and the BJP and P.C. George, whose party is not allied with any of the three fronts, had one each.
The LDF comprises 14 parties, including the Kerala Congress-Mani and the erstwhile Janata Dal-U (now the Loktantrik Janata Dal), which crossed over from the UDF last year.
In the UDF, there are just five parties at present, and while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance also has five, the others, apart from the BJP and the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, have just nominal presence.
Things are going to be tough in the LDF, as its two newest constituents, while in the UDF, had contested 18 seats (11 seats for KC-M and 7 for the LJD) in the 2016 polls and have demanded they be given the same number this time around.
"The first round of talks between these two parties are over. It is quite natural for any political party to demand as many seats as possible. But everyone knows that there are constraints. Things will be ironed out to the benefit of all. To accommodate the new parties, both the CPI-M and the CPI will have to be content with lesser number of seats than what they contested in 2016," said a senior Left leader who did not wish to be identified.
In the UDF too, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which is its second biggest constituent, and the faction of the Kerala Congress-Mani led by veteran P.J. Joseph are also trying to extract as many seats as possible.
"We have started talks with the allies and will be able to finish it soon and after which the Congress will finalise our list," state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran said.
According to sources in the Congress, the IUML is likely to get an additional three and maximum of five more seats and Joseph might get around seven seats and the rest will go to the Congress, as it wants to contest as many seats as possible.
In the NDA, its second-biggest party BDJS managed to get 4 per cent votes in its first outing in the 2016 Assembly polls but has recently undergone a split and it remains to be seen if it remains to be the same force as it was in 2016. Hence, division of seats in the BJP-led front is also heading to be a tricky affair.