Will lotus bloom in Kerala? – an analysis of BJP’s chances in assembly polls

2016 Assembly elections: People see this as the election where BJP could win a seat or two in Kerala. Do you remember when was the last time the BJP came close to winning a seat in the Kerala Legislative assembly? No it’s not the 2011 elections where the party came second in 3 seats Manjeshwar, Kasargod, and Nemom. It was the 1991 assembly elections. The seat was Manjeshwar, the candidate who lost was Kuruvannil Govindan Marar or KG Marar. Marar lost the election by a 1000 odd votes. His loss was due to vote consolidation, something similar to what happened in Varanasi in 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

From 1991 to 2014, baring 2004, Varanasi has been sending a BJP MP to the parliament. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the PM candidate of NDA, Narendra Modi won the seat by a margin of 3.7 lakhs. However, in 2009 the margin was wafer-thin, Murali Manohar Joshi of BJP won the seat by a margin of 17K votes. He was trailing the BSP candidate till the last couple of hours of polling. Sensing that a Muslim MP will be elected from the historic Hindu city, the RSS & other Hindu groups went the extra mile to bring in Hindu voters to polling booths, thus ensuring the victory of MM Joshi.

The same thing happened in Manjeshwar way back in 1991, sensing that a Hindu MLA, that too from the BJP will be elected, the Muslim voters of Manjeshwar irrespective of their party affiliations voted en bloc for a IUML candidate – Cherkalam Abdulla. Cherkalam Abdulla won by 1072 votes, thus shattering the hopes of lakhs of BJP sympathizers of the nation. A dream of opening the account in the assembly elections still remains a dream. To date KG Marar is considered the tallest leader the BJP ever had in the state.

Today 25 years later, BJP seems to be in a position to open its account. It has so many things going in its favor. An RSS man at the helm of  state party affairs which has put an end to the infighting. A PM who has been liked by Malayalees who do not have any political affiliation. People yearning for a change from the regular UDF-LDF regime. The total lack of development in the state. Considering the performance of the party in the 2011 Assembly election, 2014 LS elections and the local body elections, I have listed out the 6 constituencies where the party stands a chance of winning.

The BJP’s vote share have been growing in the following 6  seats and the party has a good chance of winning a minimum of 3 seats out of this 6. The seats are:

Nemom:

The party veteran and never ageing O. Rajagopal is yet again the BJP candidate in this constituency. The same Rajettan(as he is fondly called) who has increased BJP’s vote-share in all the seats that he has contested from 2011.  A sample of what his candidacy does to BJP vote share is given below.

Constituency/YearO RajagopalPrevious Election VotesYear of Previous Election
Nemom (2011)4366167052006
Neyyattinkara By-Election 20123050767302011
2014 LS Trivandrum282336840942009
Aruvikkara by-election 20153414576942011

If you can see, in assembly seats wherever Rajettan has contested, the BJP vote share has increased by 5 folds. In Nemom BJP now has a a vote-bank, it has its own core supporters, this is the seat that BJP will win with Rajettan as its candidate.

Look at the votes BJP got in the elections between 2011-2015.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
135-Nemom30125506854366150076

In 2015 Local Body elections BJP’s votes reduced. However, this could be attributed to the fact that people elect local candidates in these polls. The real comparison should be done against the 2014 LS elections. Where BJP had a lead of 600 odd votes. With Rajettan as the candidate, this seat is for BJP to lose.

Manjeshwar:

This is the seat that Mararji lost by a margin of 1000 votes. BJP has given this seat to its firebrand youth leader K Surendran. Surendran was the 2014 BJP candidate for the Kasargod LS constituency. He came second in this LA constituency with an vote share of 34.5%, T Siddique of INC was leading the constituency with 38% vote share. The muslim votes went en block to the INC candidate and hence he led by a margin of 5K votes. With a certain campaign strategy, BJP can win this seat (campaign strategy to be discussed in the next article)

Look at the votes BJP got in the elections between 2011-2015.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
1-Manjeshwar46559466314398949817

Thiruvananthapuram: 

This is again a seat that BJP or to be specific Rajettan led in 2014 LS elections. Look at the votes BJP got in the elections between 2011-2015.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
134-Thiruvananthapuram36400408351151949122

Rajettan led the seat by a margin of 1000+ votes. Shashi Tharoor came second. In the 2015 corporation elections BJP got 36400 votes while LDF got 47362 votes, voters preferred local faces in those elections. The only way BJP could win this seat in 2016 is by having a Star candidate who could gather votes from voters of all religions and castes. BJP tried to get Suresh Gopi (now RS MP), however he was not willing to contest. The next option that BJP had was Sreesanth. And the reports that I am getting from the ground is that, he is attracting voters across party lines. Many on twitter said that Sreesanth was a wrong choice, but they might be proved wrong on 19th May.

Kasargod:

This is another seat that K Surendran came second during the 2014 LS elections. The vote lead for Siddique was around 10K, that again was due to the Muslim vote consolidation. Look at the votes BJP got in the elections between 2011-2015.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
2-Kasaragod42837412364333053068

This is another seat where BJP needs to have a particular strategy to win it.

Kazhakoottam:

Here, Rajettan’s lead over Shashi Tharoor was 7K in 2014 LS election. That is the reason why BJP has fielded V. Muraleedharan, the former state president. The BJP lost few votes in 2015, however that can be attributed to the local faces.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
132-Kazhakoottam3560041829750850787

Muraleedharan had started the campaign even before the official announcement from the party and hence has an added advantage. This seat is BJP’s to lose.

Vattiyoorkavu:

This is the last among the 4 seats that Rajettan led in 2014. The lead over Shashi Tharoor was almost 3K, and thats the reason why BJP has fielded its current state president Kummanam Rajasekharan. Kummanam is considered by many as the Narendra Modi of Kerala. A person with humble background, a swayamsevak who spent his trying to help the common man. Kummanam, as his fondly called was the runner up in Thiruvananthapuram East during the 1987 Assembly election. He fought as the Hindu Aikya Vedi candidate and lost to Sankaranarayanan Pillai of the Indian Congress (Socialist) – Sarat Chandra Sinha. Look at the votes BJP got in the elections between 2011-2015.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
133-Vattiyoorkavu42568435891349456531

Few other seats that NDA could give a tough fight if not win are given. Please consider the voteshares of BJP in the different elections.

Constituency2015201420112011 Winner
138-Kattakkada37538188112255052368
56-Palakkad38225258922231747641
113-Aranmula33762237711022764845
139-Kovalam3034536169912759510

In my next article I will talk about the strategies that NDA has to put in to win maximum number of seats.

(I am travelling to Kuthuparamba this weekend with a hope of meeting Kuthuparamba BJP candidate C Sadanandan Master and finding out if he can upset the CPM calculations in the constituency)

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