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

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Saffron Headway in Kerala

The Bharatiya Janata Party's ability to enlist a band of groupings may not have helped the party as much in the lone seat it won--Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram district--from where the party's octogenarian O Rajagopal had been contesting election after election and establishing incremental gains over the years. But it is evident that the party has been able to erode the Congress base and eat into left votes.

A decisive victory for the Communist Party of India (Marxist)—CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, is indeed, succour to the party in times when it seems on the verge of decimation in West Bengal. While a win for the left was expected, given the record of Kerala for alternating governments between the left and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), the margin of seats in the assembly between the two fronts shows the extent of disenchantment against the Oommen Chandy government. That the left could achieve this despite the squabbles within the CPI(M), at a time when the Pinarayi Vijayan–Achuthanandan feud has crossed all limits, is indeed a feat of sorts. This article is not about the left’s performance; but it is an analysis of the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a force in Kerala. It polled 10.5% of the votes and notched up 14.65% votes along with its allies in the state assembly elections held on 16 May 2016. The BJP’s ability to enlist a band of groupings may not have helped the party as much in the lone seat it won, Nemom, from where the party’s O Rajagopal had been contesting election after election and establishing incremental gains over the years. But it is evident that the party has been able to erode the Congress base substantially and also managed to eat into the left votes, though in a small way, across the state. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) consists of the newborn political outfit, the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), P C Thomas’ Kerala Congress faction and the Janadhipathya Ooru Vikasana Munnani headed by former left firebrand leader C K Janu. The BDJS, established by Vellappally Natesan from out of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), is a caste-based social outfit rallying the Ezhava community, which had long been the mainstay of the left in Kerala.

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