ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kerala : Electoral Arithmetic

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The defeat of Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala assembly elections has given rise to a lot of arguments in the state. The outgoing chief minister, E K Nayanar, has reportedly described the victory of the United Democratic Front (UDF) as only technical, even though the UDF’s gain in terms of seats in the assembly is quite substantial, being from 69 to 99 in a house of 140 members. Nayanar’s elaboration of the technical factor adds up to the claim that it operated in the BJP deciding to ask its supporters to switch their votes over to the UDF. It is true that the proportion of votes polled in favour of BJP declined from 5.34 per cent in 1996 to 5.10 per cent in 2001. However the percentage of votes polled by the UDF went up by a substantially higher margin of 5.73 percentage points. Clearly, therefore, the argument that the BJP votes moved significantly in favour of UDF is not borne out. There must be other explanation for the substantial gain of votes made by the UDF.

Rather intriguingly, the proportion of votes polled by the LDF between 1996 and 2001 declined very marginally by 0.99 percentage points, from 44.69 per cent to 43.70 per cent. Thus it is not erosion in the support base of LDF which can explain the accretion of a substantially higher percentage of votes to the UDF. So neither the decline in the BJP’s share of the vote nor in that of the LDF explains the UDF’s gain. One has evidently to look elsewhere.

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