Pundits At Play

Chandigarh, Friday, September 25, 1970

THE Kerala elections and the Gurdaspur parliamentary by-election have come as so much grist to the mills of political pundits. The most common explanation for the rout of the CPM in Kerala is the magic of Mrs. Gandhi. It was all due to her personal invincibility, and the whirlwind tour with which she took Kerala by storm after her victory at Lusaka. But some of the shine is robbed from this theory by critics who point out that things might have been different for the Congress (R) if it had not made common cause with the CPI and the CPM was a godsend to the Congress (R). As for the Muslim League, Mrs. Gandhi has said that it is no longer a communal body. How could it be when it agrees with the ultra-secular and socialist policies of the Congress (R)? This was her reply to Ahmedabad journalists who asked her to elaborate on the possible implications of the alliance in Kerala. But she was quick to add that the League's role in other parts of the country left much to be desired. If the Muslim League elsewhere also would go to the rescue of the Congress (R) in the elections to come, it would gain respectability in the eyes of the Establishment. The old rule that a man is known by the company he keeps does not apply to political organisations, or only applies with strange qualifications. The League ceases to be communal in the company of Congress (R), but the Congress (O) becomes communal beyond redemption in the company of the Jan Sangh. Mr. Namboodiripad, who had all along been content with British system of elections, has suddenly become disillusioned with it. He wants to replace it with proportional representation. Every defeated party could say that if only there had been proportional representation with the single transferrable vote, it would have won hands down, and therefore Mr. Namboodiripad is barking up the wrong tree.

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