KOZHIKODE/KOTTAYAM: Ever since the cobbling together of United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala in 1970 in the lone Christian pocket in Muslim-majority Malappuram, the front has become the political platform for minority communities that amount to 45% of the electorate.
The political experiment helped shape UDF’s rainbow political base, bringing together the bulk of Muslims mostly concentrated in Malabar (26.6% as per 2011 census) and Christians based in central Kerala (18.4%) and aligning them with Congress’ traditional anti-Marxist vote base spread across various communities. This political experiment was key to Kerala’s four-decade-old alternating LDF and UDF regimes.
This time, LDF managed to make inroads into what UDF had considered as its electoral fixed deposits.
Among the 66 assembly constituencies where Muslim votes play a decisive role in determining the winner, LDF was able to win 45 seats. Even IUML took a beating with its tally coming down from 2016. Of the 21 seats won by UDF where Muslim votes are decisive, 20 are in Malabar; reflecting the Muslims vote consolidation behind LDF especially in central and south Kerala, where they had to choose between Congress and LDF.
LDF seems to have sensed minorities warming up to it and was enthusiastic in supporting the mass agitations against CAA/NRC. It put out full-page advertisements exclusively in Muslim-management run newspapers on April 6, polling day, proclaiming the front will not implement CAA/NRC and that there won’t be any detention camps in state.
Also LDF’s big win cannot be possible without the support of the church, especially in central Kerala. And this hasn’t happened overnight. The church was agitated for some time with UDF for the prominence it gave to IUML.
The speech made by Oommen Chandy’s son, regarding conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque in Turkey, did not go well with the church and its bishops. The stand of Jacobite Church made Chandy sweat though he won Puthuppally. Though Jacobite church leaders met BJP ahead of the elections, they went back to LDF at the last minute.