In a couple of weeks from now, O Rajagopal, the octogenarian will be the first ever BJP leader who will take oath as an MLA in the 14th legislative assembly of Kerala. History was written when he won from Nemom (the seat which he lost in 2011) by 8671 in the 2016 Assembly elections of Kerala. After its formation in 1980, BJP had always been the also ran in all Kerala elections until 2016. However, this year it had formed an alliance with 13 smaller parties and contested elections as a third front, the NDA. With vote-share of 15.01% & one MLA, the NDA of Kerala has become a force to reckon with. It will be considered as an option by the Keralites in the upcoming elections.
This is why BJP needs to plan its future course of action. BJP will not be able to consider O Rajagopal or Rajettan (as he is fondly called) for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, because if he loses, that will make a huge dent into the party’s prospects for 2021 assembly elections. BJP/NDA needs to have few strategies in place for 2019 LS elections and 2021 assembly elections.
Expand the NDA:
This should be the foremost target of BJP leadership. They need to expand the NDA and bring in few more parties or leaders into its fold. To begin with, it should try getting the independent MLA PC George into its fold. PC George as an independent candidate had got 63K votes in this election, NDA had got 20K votes. George will not go with any front for now because of the insult meted out to him by both the fronts. If BJP can bring in George into the NDA, it will have a cushion of almost 80K votes to start with during the 2019 LS election in the Pathanamthitta Loksabha constituency.
Of the 15.01% voteshare that BJP got in this election, 10% has been from the christian community, BJP has to increase this to win few more seats in 2019 or 2021 . To increase the christian votes, BJP has to get another Christian dominated party into its fold. The only major christian party that BJP can get into its fold is the Kerala Congress (Mani) or KCM. KCM has a vote share of 4%, which along with NDA’s 15% will take the NDA voteshare to almost 20% which will help BJP in winning at least one MP seat in 2019. KM Mani, the KCM leader has been targeted by LDF for his role in the Kerala BAR license scam, he has been telling that he was not supported well enough by the UDF (the front that his party is part off) during this hard times. He would be an easy candidate for BJP to win over into its front.
Its a fact that, KM Mani and PC George (he was earlier a part of KCM) cannot stand each other, however for greater good of all three (George,KCM & NDA), the BJP will have to do the negotiation part. KCM can be given a minister’s post in the NDA. His son Jose K. Mani is already an MP from Kottayam. With the Congress future looking bleak, Mani will consider all options for the survival of his party and particularly that of his son.
Horses for Courses:
For Kerala BJP, in the past few elections, it has fielded the same set of candidates. Rajettan, K. Surendran, Shoba Surendran, V Muraleedharan, PK Krishnadas, MT Ramesh have been made candidates for both Lok Sabha as well as Assembly elections. This has to change. BJP has to apply the concept of “Horses for Courses”. It has to have a set of leaders who will contest only in Lok Sabha elections and another set which will contest only in Assembly elections. Apart from K Surendran & Kummanam Rajasekharan (BJP state president), it cannot have any other candidate contesting both Lok Sabha & Assembly elections after losing one.
BJP should decide its 2019 candidates now. It needs to declare its candidate for Thiruvananthapuram, Kasaragod and Palakkad without any delay. It should be Kummanam for Thiruvananthapuram, K Surendran for Kasaragod and C. Krishnakumar for Palakkad. The other leaders who had come 2nd or close 3rd in the 2016 assembly elections should start focusing for the 2021 elections from now on. They should be at the forefront of any peoples movement in their constituencies. They have to earn the goodwill of the people.
For BJP to form government in 2019, it should have its own majority again or should be close to majority. BJP cannot expect to win 73 seats again from UP. It will be surprise if it wins even half the number of seats from that state. That is why it has to concentrate on winning from other states like TN, Kerala & WB. It has to start working now.
The saying goes “early bird gets the worm”. But I say “early party gets the seats”