With less than a week to go for poll, the high pitch battle for votes has reached a crescendo in Kerala, with all major political parties parading national leaders to woo the voters. BJP, desperate to open its account, has brought in large number of central ministers apart from prime minister Modi, while Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi has already addressed electorates at various places. The long drawn electoral battle, and the scorching heat has failed to douse the political spirit of the electorates.
The campaign in Kerala, after the election was announced two months back centred around corruption and development. While the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) campaign concentrated on various corruption allegations that rattled the ruling front, United Democratic Front(UDF) main focus during campaign is development. The BJP campaigned for a third alternative, which the party tells “will take Kerala on par with Gujarat”
Solar Scam, which for the first time in the history of Kerala put an incumbent chief minister under the shadow of suspicion, and bar bribery case involving several ministers, has put the ruling UDF on the defensive right from the initial period of the campaign. They tried to invoke the aspirations of the youth by saying that continuance of UDF rule will bring in more jobs to the state. A claim contested by the opposition.
But the larger question that is being posed not only among the political leaders but by the general public is whether the BJP will finally make it into the Legislative Assembly. Never in its history has BJP made such a blitzkrieg campaign like the one being done in Kerala. BJP hopes the electoral alliance they had with Sree Narayana Dharmaparipala Yogam (SNDP) leader Vellappally Natesan led Bharat Dharma Jana Sena(BDJS), will give them the most wanted push to make their mark in Kerala Legislative Assembly. But whether the traditional left supporters of SNDP will shift allegiance toward BJP remains to be seen. But BJP is turning no stones untouched.
Opponents allege that the saffron party is spending crores of rupees in this election to woo the voters.
But contrary to the hype that has been created by the campaign managers and some media, political analysts and psephologists are skeptical of the claims made by the BJP leaders
A survey conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Economic Growth (IMEG) which found that the LDF will be back to power after five years does not see BJP opening their account this time also
IMEG survey headed by A Meera sahib, former Director of Statistical Department claim that LDF may bag 83-90 seats in the 2016 Assembly poll while Congress led UDF is probable to lose the game with 50 to 57 seats.
“Much against to the claims that BJP is making, only in four constituencies, tri-polar contest is witnessed. Nemom, Vatiyurkavu , Manjeshwaram and Kasargod are the constituencies where BJP is positioned as a formidable force. But in other constituencies, BJP may end up as a deciding factor, which may benefit the LDF” Meera Sahib briefed.
Kiran Thomas, a social media activist also concurred largely with the opinion poll,” The only chance of BJP winning a seat would be at Manjeshwar where K. Surendran is contesting.”
Gouridasan Nair, deputy editor of the Hindu said ,” Huge presence of BJP National leaders to Kerala is significant this time, 20 ministers have already come including the Prime Minister. BJP is seeing these elections very seriously and hopes to make a breakthrough in Kerala, though it happens or not it is a different issue. As far Congress is concerned, they have relied on National leaders coming forward during the final stages. Both Modi and Sonia have made their impact in the State in their own ways. Modi was talking to his own captive audience, comprising of party members and managed crowd.”
Kerala which has 140 assembly seats, has the habit of experimenting between two prominent electoral fronts- the UDF and LDF. Though the BJP has tried to make the electoral understanding the Congress and Left parties have in Bengal as a campaign issue, it has not found much resonance among the electorates. This time if the history repeats then LDF will once again rule Kerala. But how they are going to reinvent themselves, at a time when the mainstream left politics is being thrown in to the margins is the bigger question that remains.