BJP’s lotus blossom in Kerala with Congress help
BJP is doing everything it takes to realise its goal of Congress Mukth Bharat. But India’s grand old party seems to be failing in its effort to stall the political project of the saffron party. However weak it might be in some parts of the country, Congress is still there fighting the BJP politically.
Even as this seem to be the larger picture, a curious case seems to be emerging in southern tip of the country. In Kerala, the Congress seems to have lend a helping hand to the BJP, in its effort to beat the CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF). This is what one can comprehend by analysing the election results. Though the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) candidates failed miserably in nearly 100 constituencies, it managed to help the BJP open its account in Nemom, a suburb of capital Thiruvananthapuram.
BJP has been trying right from 1980 when that party was formed to get a toe hold in in Kerala. But success eluded them for 36 long years. The May 16 vote ended the long drought and lotus has bloomed for the first time in the state. Veteran leader O. Rajagopal will be the first BJP man to be elected to the Kerala Assembly.
But how did BJP manage to pull it off? Did the party increase it support base in Nemom? BJP leaders may answer in the affirmative. But the poll arithmetic indicates otherwise.
A total of 1,43,766 votes were polled in the constituency. The UDF candidate V. Surendran Pillai got a mere 13,860 votes. In the last Lok Sabha polls, UDF candidate Shashi Tharoor had polled 32,639 votes from this constituency. In the local body election held last November, the UDF got 33,100 votes here.
So the numbers speak for themselves. The defeated LDF candidate V. Sivankutty, has in fact increased his votes from 50,076 in 2011 to 59,142 in this ballot. This indicates that UDF was not serious in its effort to stall BJP’s entry into the Kerala Assembly.
In seven constituencies, the BJP candidates were in second position. The saffron party lost its second seat in the state’s northernmost constituency of Manjeswaram by just 89 votes. A namesake of the BJP’s candidate Surendran, had garnered 478 votes. A sizeable number of voters in this constituency are Kannadigas, a traditional support base for BJP, unlike many other parts of Kerala, which is polarised between Hindus and Muslims.
Even in Malampuzha, where the veteran communist leader VS Achuthanandan contested, the UDF candidate came third behind the BJP. While VS increased his vote share, the Congress candidate B S Joy was relegated to the third position indicating a possible vote shift from Congress to BJP.
The Congress put up stiff fight in Palakkad and Vattiyoorkavu constituencies and beat their BJP rivals. But then Shafi Parambil and Muralidharan, the sitting MLA’s in these constituencies were popular because of the work they had done there.
Though BJP claims that they have started their juggernaut by winning a seat, the percentage of votes they got may not substantiate their claims. In their perceived strong hold in capital Thiruvananthapuram, the BJP could not significantly increase their vote share from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when O. Rajagopal had fought against Shashi Tharoor.
This is significant when we see in the light that BJP has aligned with BDJS, a new political outfit floated by the influential Ezhava community organisation SNDP. The total vote share of NDA has also not made any significant improvement from the last Lok Sabha election.
Despite claims to the contrary, while breaking down the numbers, it can’t be said for sure that BJP is on the ascendency in the state. But as is evident if the Congress structure is falling after the defeat, of course it will be cashed in by the BJP more, than by the Left.
Kerala has a history of Congress-BJP alliance when both these parties had common candidate in the late 80s. But even in that election the independents supported by Congress and BJP was trounced at the hustings.