A New Electoral Template For The Left

Anurag Verma
3 min readApr 3, 2021

Elections, local, regional or national, comes with interesting anecdotes, which later become a distinct memory of that election. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation was formed on April 16, 2007, merging 12 municipalities from the districts of Rangareddy and Medak along with 8 Panchayats into the then Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad. The city, with a Municipal administration history of 150 years dating back to 1869, when the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad state Mir Turab Ali Khan also known as Salar Jung I appointed Kotwal-e-Baldia — the city police commissioner, has recently voted to choose another local government. However, polling for Ward No. 26 had to be rescheduled from December 1 to December 3 due to an incident many would find metaphorical.

The votes were to be polled through ballot papers, but the erroneous switch between party symbols of CPI and CPM — presented alongside party names — rendered the ballot papers useless and lead to rescheduling of elections.

RJD Leaders with Left Leaders at the Grand Alliance PC, Press Trust of India, October 3, 2020, Patna

The incident happened following Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections 2020 and preceding Kerala Legislative Assembly Elections 2021, in a city with a history of Nizams, experiencing unprecedented ideological and electoral push by the BJP. In Bihar, the Left diluted ideological differences not only among themselves but with a major regional party — RJD, to set-up an alliance consolidating anti- BJP-JDU votes. The Left leaders accepted and defended the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, a political dynast, throughout the campaign. They together contested 29 seats securing victory on 16 and finishing second on 11 seats with a substantial vote share on each of them.

Data Source: CEO Bihar

The last and most formidable Left bastion in India, Kerala would elect a new legislative assembly in 2021. The writings on the wall read an inevitable and massive expansion push by the BJP, till the results of the local body elections in December 2020 suggested otherwise. Unlike Tripura, another left bastion that the BJP breached in assembly elections 2018, their rise in Kerala has been slow.

During the last rounds of local body election in 2015, they had secured 13.3% of the total votes polled followed by 14.96% in the assembly elections 2016 and 15% in the recently concluded local body elections. Growing at such a rate, they will get to exercise power in nineteen gram panchayats and two municipalities only, falling well behind the LDF and UDF tallies.

As Kerala go to poll on April 6, a vote share of 20% with a few more seats in the assembly would be the best prospect for the BJP to look forward to. After all the high-octane politics over last couple of years, they are not in contention for most constituencies. However, they command enough resources to turn the tides at a brisk rate. Remember, if it was Kerala, one of the first electorate in the world to elect a Communist government into power — Namboodiripad Government from1957–59. It is Kerala, where the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has more Shakhas than any other state in India.

The BJP will inevitably attempt to register a significant electoral presence in the south, but with two formidable coalitions already in fray, Kerala would present a colossal challenge. Though, for the rest of the Left, the switching of party symbols on ballots in Hyderabad could be a metaphor presenting a case to dilute differences, come together and adopt the Bihar template across India.

PS: Meanwhile, all eyes on West Bengal and Assam.