With Janata Dal (Secular) "optimistic" for an alliance, the party hopes to be a significant player by May

Having been relegated to the sidelines of political relevance in the past three decades, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) tries it hand again by fielding farmer-activist Yadav Shetty as its candidate for the Dakshina Kannada constituency. With Janata Dal (Secular) “optimistic” for an alliance, the party hopes to be a significant player by May.

First-time candidate Mr. Shetty is a CPI(M) district secretariat member and district General Secretary of Karnataka Pranta Rajya Sangha, who currently leads the opposition against the proposed HPCL pipeline project.

“The focus now will be on price rise, corruption and protection of farmers. We want to project ourselves as an alternative to the Congress and BJP,” he told The Hindu.

Though concerned that there will be a division of votes with numerous other parties also contesting on the same planks, Mr. Shetty said: “When the scenario clears out, we will see if a third front can be formed. I will wait around two days to see if JD(S) can support us.”

JD(S) District President M.B. Sadashiva said three names – former minister Amarnath Shetty, state committee member Haider Partipady and himself – have been shortlisted as “back-up”. “The talks on alliance are at the National-level and we’re waiting for the high command for a decision. We’re optimistic of an alliance as we can consolidate votes,” he said.

Uphill task

Even with JD(S) support, CPI(M) faces an uphill task. Perusing their past performances, there has been a steady decline since 1957. The 2013 Assembly elections was projected as a sort of minor resurgence, as it was the first time since 1978 that three CPI(M) candidates were fielded.

However, the party received just 11,363 votes across three constituencies – Belthangady, Mangalore South and Mangalore North – and its vote share remained below 3 per cent. This is significantly lesser than the 18,328 votes that was won by B. Madhava, the party’s candidate, in the 2009 general assembly elections. Even adding the 45,875 votes that JD(S) won across eight constituencies, the two parties make up a little more than 10 per cent of the votes won by incumbent MP Nalin Kumar Kateel.

“We always contest with hope, and we do have pockets of influence in the state. We do not have the resources of other parties,” said Mr. Madhava, who opted out due to health concerns. “We’ll focus on our party manifesto that will release soon, and also emphasise on left being the only viable alternative to the “similar” policies of BJP and Congress,” he said.

While extending support to the CPI(M), P. Sanjeeva, CPI district secretary, said the aim was not victory but to increase the left base here for future elections.

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