New hope dawning for Kerala BJP

published on June 18, 2012

Is the outcome of the Assembly by-election in Neyyattinkara in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram district giving new hopes to the BJP which has been unsuccessfully trying all these years to make the Lotus bloom in God’s Own Country? Observers say yes.

The main factor that gives the BJP the right to dream afresh about opening account in the Kerala Assembly in the future elections is the fact that the votes-hare of the party went up by 500 percent in the June 2 by-poll in Neyyattinkara, results of which was announced on Friday, compared to the party’s score in the 2011 Assembly election.

That this achievement became possible mainly because O Rajagopal, former Union minister and perhaps the party’s most popular face in Kerala, was the BJP candidate in the by-poll is undeniable but shrewd strategy-formulation and tireless, systematic and enthusiastic electioneering were equally responsible for it.

It is true that the BJP strategists and workers had hoped that Rajagopal might win the by-election or at least claim the second place but the fact remains that even the third place he secured is not a bad achievement considering the number of votes he secured in such a tightly fought by-election which had crucial importance in the current political situation in the State.

“The intelligence and shrewdness of the BJP strategists had reflected in the selection of the right candidate at the right time for the right constituency,” admitted a former State committee member of the CPI(M) from Kochi. “That selection proved that the BJP bosses had rightly understood the socio-political undercurrents in Neyyattinkara,” he said.

The Congress-led ruling UDF fielded Marxist turncoat R Selvaraj (who won the seat) and the CPI(M)-headed Opposition LDF chose F Lawrence, a former Kerala Congress man, primarily because they belonged to the Nadar community which constituted almost 50 percent of the 1,64,856-strong Neyyattinkara electorate.

“The BJP strategists had shown the right judgement in fielding Rajagopal, a leader with clean record, with the goal of appealing to the Hindu Nair and Ezhava communities which constituted the majority of the remaining half of the electorate. Also, the outfits of both the communities had given enough indications that they would not oppose Rajagopal,” the CPI(M) leader said.

Observers say that the situation in Neyyattinkara was favourable to the BJP and this feeling had made the workers all the more enthusiastic in election work. “The main strategy of the BJP was to attract the voters disillusioned with both the Congress and the CPI(M) while ensuring a consolidation of majority communities’ votes,” said Kozhikode journalist R Sankaran.

Indeed, the BJP had lost a lot of votes it had expected to fall in its kitty. This was mainly because of the toppling of all the poll issues with the brutal murder on May 4 of Marxist rebel TP Chandrasekharan in Onchiyam, Kozhikode which became a formidable weapon in the hands of the Congress-led front against the CPI(M) in Neyyattinkara.

But poll and political analysts agree that the Rajagopal’s achievement in Neyyattinkara shows that the BJP could invest more wishes and efforts in constituencies like Neyyattinkara in the same way they have been doing in Manjeswaram and Kasaragod in northern Kerala where party candidates used to claim second place almost in all elections.

“It shows that the ‘BJP-is-communal’ placard held up by the Congress and the Left alike need not work everywhere,” said a Congress leader. “I think some serious changes are taking place in Kerala’s politics. The by-poll experience also shows that the BJP too can hope to win if it plans and works for elections intelligently and systematically,” he said.

It is in this context State BJP president V Muraleedharan is saying that the era of bipolar politics may be coming to an end in Kerala and it will now be time for “tri-polar” politics. Muraleedharan said that the party could not garner the votes that it had expected but the enhancement of vote-share from 6.730 to over 30,507 in a year was a very positive sign.

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