BJP sees hope in Kerala after Cong’s poll show

May 04, 2021 06:07 AM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: In a red surge in Kerala on Sunday the saffron party was washed away

Thiruvananthapuram: In a red surge in Kerala on Sunday the saffron party was washed away. The BJP even failed to save the lone seat it won in 2016, Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram . But the party can take solace from the Congress’ performance -- something that could potentially open up more space for it.

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The BJP has, over the past few years, expanded inorganically through defections. Senior BJP leaders said some Congress leaders were in touch with them.

“It is fact that before the election some leaders were approached, but the political climate is different in Kerala. Let the BJP first save its depleting space before poaching ,” said a senior Congress leader, who did not want to be named. This person added that the Congress suspects a secret understanding between the ruling front and the CPI(M) to weaken the Congress in Kerala.

Still, sensing danger from the BJP, many senior Congress leaders have urged an overhaul in the party .

Out of 95 seats the Congress contested the party won 21 seats and the BJP lost all 113 seats it contested.

Metro Man E Sreedharan, drafted by the BJP late in the day (he joined the party three weeks before the election) and projected as the chief ministerial candidate did not help the party’s chances.Nor did campaigning by almost all senior national leaders, including the Prime Minister.

BJP district president E Krishnadas said there was rampant cross voting in the seat to block the victory of Metro Man. “All (parties) teamed up to ensure his defeat. “

Though BJP candidates came second in eight constituencies, the NDA’s vote share slipped to 14 % from 15.3 % in 2016.The party was hoping for a 20% share and a few seats but that wasn’t to be. Its alliance partner the Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena, a political outfit of backward Ezhavas, also failed to put up spirited fight. I

To add it its woes party state president K Surendran lost in two constituencies. During the campaign, he commuted between two constituencies on a chopper which had evoked much criticism. “There was only a single point agenda to prevent blooming of the lotus. Parties were in a race to ensure this. A big communal polarisation in favour of the ruling CPI(M) took place,” claimed Surendran.

BJP national leaders raised many issues such as Love Jihad (a conspiracy theory about Muslim men pretending to be from other religions and marrying women whom they then force to convert) , the entry of women into Sabarimala , the sensational gold smuggling case and arrest of CPI(M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son in drug and money laundering cases -- but they failed to enthuse voters.

“Due to Kerala’s unique demography it is difficult for the party to get a strong foothold. It tried its best to rake up the emotional Sabarimala temple issue but results show it failed to make any impact. In fighting in the state unit also played its role,” said political commentator Sunnykutty Abraham adding that he expects the party to remain a distant third in the state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also came down heavily on party’s belligerent campaign. “We promised to close the single account of the BJP and we managed it. In a state like Kerala which has sworn by communal harmony such forces have no place. It is better for its national leaders to understand this at least now,” he said in Kannur (north Kerala) on Sunday.


    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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