Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 5: The upcoming three-tier local body elections in Kerala will be a litmus test for the Left which has been on a steady decline since winning the assembly elections in 2006.
It is now going to be a decade since the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) won the local body polls in Kerala, a state it considers its bastion.
The polls will take place on November 2 and 5. The results will be out on November 7.
After winning the 2006 assembly polls, the LDF has ended up on the losing side in every electoral battle in the state.
It was washed out in the 2009 Lok Sabha battle, quickly followed by three losses in assembly by-elections.
The shocker came in 2010 when for the first time in years, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) trounced the LDF and secured close to 65 percent of the local bodies.
The Left also lost the 2011 assembly polls to the UDF but narrowly.
The UDF won two by-elections in 2012. And in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Kerala elected the second largest contingent of Congress MPs in the country after Karnataka.
Again, this year, despite various scams, the UDF won the Aruvikara assembly by-election. And with most people feeling that the Left may be in for a shock in next year's assembly elections, the local body polls are considered very important.
Another reason that has caused a hiccup in the Left camp is the meeting in New Delhi last week between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and V. Natesan, the Hindu Ezhava leader and general secretary of the powerful Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Sangom that owes allegiance to social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.
For years, a major portion of the Ezhava community has always stood by the CPI-M.
"Electoral politics means numbers. With the SNDP moving closer to the BJP, the Hindu vote is going to be split and the Left is going to be hit badly. The BJP will gain. This will benefit the UDF," said a political analyst who did not wish to be identified.
Naturally, the CPI-M has launched an attack on Natesan.
Former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan has raked up corruption allegations against Natesan. CPI-M state secretary K. Balakrishnan asked Natesan not to use Narayana Guru's name to promote his political ambitions.
Natesan has made it clear that the SNDP will take the lead in uniting the various Hindu social and religious groups under one umbrella.
"I don't know why the CPI-M is feeling restless. You wait and see what's going to unfold. Something will be there for sure ahead of the assembly elections," he said.
In the local body elections, 21,871 seats spread out in 941 village, 152 block and 14 district panchayats besides 86 municipalities and six corporations will be up for grab.