Today it was the poling day for the state of
Somalia Kerala for the Assembly elections, 2016. And it has also been raining. Steadily. Medium to heavy rain was reported all across the state. But the rain didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the voters anyway. If theres one thing living in Kerala has taught me in all these years, its that a rainy day is just another day in the life of a malayalee. We welcome it with open arms.
It was felt nice being a part of the election machinery of the country. The Indian consitution does not give the average voter too may powers, this is perhaps the only time where a citizen can bring about some change in the system. This chance comes but once in only 5 years, and sooner, if things are really that bad. This particular year, the stake are abnormally high. Whatever result is proclaimed two days from now, its going to be a sure surprise to the whole country.
So what are the thoughts going through the mind of a voter now ? Waiting in the rain ? Here are mine.
The incumbent Congress party has actually done quite well in its term. There are allegations of corruption against them. But then, there are always allegations of corruption, before every election. It was the same before the last one too. I think these things have now become such commonplace that it no longer comes as a surprise to the average Indian. But if one examines the pattern of who has one over all the years, the chances of the incumbent party winning is very minute.
Which opens up the possiblity of a Left led government. Kerala is the last chance for this party to come to power, they have already lost in Bengal, and they only have a government in tiny Tripura. Problem is that the ideals of this party (if there are still some left) are directly against the laws of economics. They are against capitalism and foreign investment. No problem there. Except without foreign ties, India can never call itself a developed country. Daily wage rates in Kerala is highest in the country, and labourers from north India, called ‘migrant labourers’ by the media, is now the core workforce of the state. The state is turning out to be a mini-Gulf for these workers.
One could analyze the election patterns around the world, and may not have seen such a fishbone diagram for its depiction. This graph shows how Keralites have changed side to the extremes during every election. But the last election was a photo finish.
Kerala has painted itself into a unique corner. On one side, it has the highest human development index for any state in the country. That should mean that the standard of living here is much higher. But this is primarily because of Kerala’s innumerable remittances from migrant Keralites of the middle east. With a failed industry, and a failed agriculture, Kerala depends on imports from other states for everything from food to services. That always means that these things come with a higher cost. Groceries are more expensive. Even staple food grains. And all the vehicles and raw materials required by a state…they are all imported from another state, and thus cost more. No party seems to have an agenda to boost agriculture and industry in the state.
Its well known that all electrical & electronic applicances cost more at the store in Kerala, which is why a huge number of buyers were buying these things online, and when the state government found out, they tried to impose a penalty tax for these goods. The Kerala High Court had to quash this later.
The only industry which could be exploited was tourism, which the government promptly did. But the state Congress govenment’s decision to ban liquor has now adversely affected this as well. Media says that the decision was warmly welcomed by the women of the state. Which is important, because unlike the rest of the country, Kerala has a reverse sex- ratio. There are more women than men, so that is a majority movement here.
When UDF was power at the center, incumbent UDF state government enjoyed a lot of benefits. But now with BJP at the center, the equation is no longer feasible.
All in all, its a mixed bag. Like I said, the result , whatever it is , will be a huge surprise.