BJP's win in Thrissur, rise in vote share in other seats mark political shift in Kerala: Analysts

The BJP's sterling performance in Kerala, winning from Thrissur and increasing its vote share in many constituencies in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, clearly indicates a shift in the political landscape of the southern state, say noted political analysts.
Representative image
Representative image

Thiruvananthapuram | The BJP's sterling performance in Kerala, winning from Thrissur and increasing its vote share in many constituencies in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, clearly indicates a shift in the political landscape of the southern state, say noted political analysts.

Besides actor-politician Suresh Gopi winning from Thrissur, the BJP-led NDA saw its vote share rise from over 15 per cent in 2019 to nearly 20 per cent now.

Analysts indicate that Kerala's political landscape is evolving from a traditionally bipolar contest dominated by Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF to a tripolar scenario.

This shift, which has been gradually happening since the 2011 Assembly elections, is now becoming more evident.

The 2024 Parliamentary elections in Kerala confirm this shift, as NDA made major inroads into the electorate in Kerala, garnering nearly 20 per cent vote share in many constituencies they contested in, they said.

According to them, constituencies like Thrissur, which NDA won, and the increased vote share in constituencies like Attingal and Alappuzha provided a major boost for BJP, confirming that the 'subaltern Hindutva' strategy, successfully implemented in states like Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, has also been effective in Kerala.

In Thrissur, the BJP won with 37.8 per cent of the total votes. In Thiruvananthapuram, the BJP finished second, securing 35.52 per cent of the votes.

In Attingal, a stronghold of the Left, the BJP candidate received 31.64 per cent of the votes, just 1.65 per cent behind the winning UDF candidate.

In Alappuzha, another stronghold of CPI(M) and Congress, the BJP candidate garnered 28.3 per cent of the votes.

Analysts say there has been a shift in the preferences of minority Christians, traditional Congress supporters, and OBCs, who were once the committed vote-bank of the Left in Kerala, as they no longer consider the BJP a necessary evil.

"We have been seeing it since the 2011 Assembly elections. The Left had lost about 20 per cent of its OBC vote share, and they compensated for it by earning minority votes. In local body elections, we have widely seen tripolar contests," Sajad Ibrahim, a leading psephologist at the Kerala University, told PTI.

The shift of minority Christian votes in constituencies like Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram was very evident.

"The Christian community in Kerala has a majority of upper caste Christians. It is easier for them to align with the BJP as Hindu elements are now incorporated into Christian rituals. They are also practical when it comes to politics," said Dr G Gopakumar, former Vice-Chancellor of Central University and a well-known psephologist.

He said the change in approach by BJP in Kerala, where they set aside their 'religious chauvinism' and tried to reach out to minorities, OBCs and Dalits, helped them gain more ground.

"It helped them improve their vote share in Tamil Nadu, a state that has strong Dravidian sentiments, and in Kerala, which has a strong Communist mindset," Gopakumar said.

"BJP did learn that their religious chauvinism cannot win them votes in Kerala. They now understand that they need a more pluralistic approach to win votes in Kerala," Gopakumar added.

He noted that technically, Hindus are a minority in Kerala if the number of Dalit Christians is included in the minority community. According to current records, Kerala has 46 per cent minorities.

"So, the BJP knows well that it cannot grow in Kerala if it cannot get minority votes, and in places like Thrissur, they have implemented this understanding well," Gopakumar added.

According to Dr Prabhash J, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Kerala University, Muslim appeasement by the Left also contributed to Hindu voters shifting their loyalty to the BJP.

"Earlier, the Left used to secure all their votes. But later, they started losing their committed voters, first to the UDF and now either to the UDF or NDA," he said.

He said when Congress faced a crisis at the national level, it became easier for confused voters to shift their allegiance to BJP, which was gaining strength.

"The Left tried to appease top organisational and religious leaders of Islam in Kerala, thinking that if they could convince them, Muslim votes would come to them. They did not talk to the common Muslims. The overt focus on CAA did not resonate with the Christian community as they are not really concerned about it," Prabhash said.

Prabhash believes both the UDF and the Left compromised their secular credentials, leading people to believe there is not much difference among three fronts.

Gopakumar believes the BJP propaganda among Christians, highlighting issues like 'love jihad', created concern within the Christian community in Kerala.

"Christians in Kerala are international and are scared about the international Muslim upsurge. Similarly, the major vote-bank of the Left, Hindus, especially communities like Ezhavas, also started changing. The strong Muslim appeasement by the Left did alienate such voters," Gopakumar said.

He, however, mentioned Gopi's win in Thrissur was more personal than political.

"The Christian community believes in philanthropy and Gopi is one of the best philanthropists among the cinema community. He helped a lot of poor people and his work was rewarded. There were 21 per cent Christian voters in Thrissur and they voted en masse for Gopi," Gopakumar said.

Ibrahim said Kerala voters have not completely accepted BJP but opined a new political approach by the party has helped them reduce the animosity among voters.

Latest News

No stories found.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Metrovaartha- En