Now or never for BJP in Kerala: 3 factors that the saffron party is counting on

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Updated: April 3, 2019 6:57:17 PM

Lok Sabha elections 2019: To counter threats like the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh and Grand Alliance in Bihar, the BJP would look to build on their tally in states like Kerala.

 

Sabarimala, Kerala electionsThe BJP had opposed the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple.

The general elections in Kerala are expected to be a fight between the ruling Left Democratic Front and the United Democratic Front. But the Bharatiya Janata Party would look to make a mark as the state goes to polls on April 23. Kerala has remained elusive for BJP since the party was founded in 1980. In the 2014 elections, BJP failed to win a single seat while the Congress-led UDF secured 12 of the 20 seats.

BJP has also lost footing in some of the states that they had performed well in during the 2014 elections. In the assembly elections held in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, BJP were routed by Congress. The SP-BSP alliance and the Grand Alliance is also expected to present a tough challenge to the party in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively. To counter these threats, BJP is looking at other states to consolidate its tally. While a steep rise in the number of seats is unlikely for the BJP in Kerala, making inroads into this Left bastion is something that will be high on symbolism. South India has never been a BJP stronghold and any dent to the Left here will be seen as a big win. Moreover, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi choosing a seat from Kerala as his second seat, the election will be a battle of prestige for BJP more than anyone else.

Here are 3 reasons that could work in BJP’s favour in Kerala:

Sabarimala temple protests
The BJP opposed the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. Party workers, right-wing extremists and devotees held protests across the state saying that the SC verdict not only went against their religion, but also against the sentiments of the people..

The temple of Lord Ayyappa had a centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstruating age in the sanctum sanctorum. The BJP had also urged the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) to lodge a review petition against the SC order.

In order to mobilise votes using the temple controversy, the party ask Kummanam Rajasekharan to resign as Mizoram governor and contest from Thiruvananthapuram. Rajasekharan will be up against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is the sitting MP from the constituency.

Nair community votes

A large-chunk of the upper-caste Nair community is supporting the BJP’s stand on the Sabarimala issue. The Nair community votes have traditionally gone to the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

But after the Sabarimala protests, the Nair Service Society (NSS) announced that it would support BJP in two seats. The BJP hopes that Nairs would vote for it in other constituencies too.

Also read: Why Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Wayanad

Fatigue from the two-party system

One of the reasons why the Modi wave hit big in the 2014 general elections was the discontent people had against the UPA government. The saffron party would hope for a similar outcome in Kerala this time around.

Pinarayi Vijayan and his government have come up short during disasters like Cyclone Ockhi and the floods that hit the state last year. Many of the welfare schemes that the LDF government has announced have been an extension of the existing ones, that keep up with the Left ideology in Kerala.

The anti-Left space in Kerala has so far been occupied by the Congress and its allies. But the BJP would look to leverage the fatigue setting in against the Left.

Also read: Who is Thushar Vellappally? Meet Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad challenger announced by NDA

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