In 2020, Kerala was appreciated across the world for the manner in which it dealt with the pandemic. The national lockdown that was imposed in March 2020 left the daily wage labourers most vulnerable. To tackle the food crisis, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Front government in the State distributed food kits containing essential foodgrains and other items to all ration card holders in the State and also set up community kitchens across all panchayats. In the Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey, 94% of the respondents acknowledged that they had availed themselves of the facility of food kits at least once. Among them, most were satisfied with the kit with only 11% expressing some element of dissatisfaction (Table 1).
Even when the voters were asked to rate the overall steps taken by the State government to deal with COVID-19 over the last one year, 72% rated the steps as good. Another 21% rated the steps as average with only a small chunk (5%) according a bad rating.
These kits along with other initiatives earned tremendous goodwill for the government and also translated into votes for the Left alliance. Close to six of 10 voters who had rated the steps taken by the government as good voted for the party (57%). A similar pattern was also seen among those who had availed themselves of the kit and were satisfied with it (Table 2).
The data also show that two-thirds (67%) of the respondents acknowledged that at least one of their household members is working in the Gulf. Of them, 92% said that their family members send money back home. The pandemic caused a massive reverse migration of workers from the Gulf back to Kerala. The LDF government made various arrangements and provided financial assistance to those who could not go back abroad due to the lockdown. The data show that a majority of these Gulf households were tilted towards the UDF in their voting pattern as they are mostly Muslim households. However, four in every 10 of these households wanted to give the LDF another chance.
The work done by the Left government during the pandemic was remarkable not only on paper, but also in practice as a majority of the voters had availed themselves of the benefits of the government’s schemes. This work surely translated into the LDF gaining people’s trust.
Vibha Attri is Research Associate, Lokniti-CSDS