Kerala, the state where Congress had the best strike rate in the last general election, is slipping away from Congress’ hands as top leaders of the party are leaving to join BJP. Three days ago PC Chako, among the seniormost and most popular leaders of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), left the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, although he has not joined any other party yet. Now, former Congress general secretary Vijayan Thomas has also left the party to join the BJP.
Moreover, Thomas said that many other senior leaders are not happy with factionalism and grouping in the party, and would leave very soon. “I was tolerating for a long time. You know what is happening in Congress, they are not knowing what is happening to them actually. They don’t know how to work it out,” said Thomas.
“Who is left there now? And even in the states, who is looking after the states properly? So totally, now the hope is in Kerala. There also you can see what is going to happen. See, I am the starting maybe. So there will be a lot of senior leaders leaving very soon. The preparations are going on. They are just waiting until what is happening until the election,” he added.
In the 2016 assembly election, Congress won only 21 seats in the assembly of 140. Indian Union Muslims League, which used to be a marginal player in the state for decades, emerged as the second-largest party in the United Democratic Front camp with 19 seats. Now the state unit of Kerala is completely under the shadow of the IUML and its Islamist leader, therefore, many Christian leaders are leaving the party to join BJP.
Congress used to draw its support base from Christians and Muslims of the state but over the years Muslims shifted to IMUL and Christians to Kerala Congress (M) and whatever Christian leaders are left in the party are turning to the BJP.
BJP’s rise in Kerala is on the similar lines of its expansion in West Bengal. In the state of West Bengal, BJP had a marginal presence with Left Front, Congress, and later TMC becoming the major players. However, in the last few years, BJP has gulped the vote bank of Congress and the Left front to emerge as the major opposition against the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC.
Similarly in Kerala, BJP had a marginal presence before 2016 but the party emerged as the third-largest party by a vote share with around 15 per cent votes, although it could win only one seat.
In the 2019 general elections, the party could not win any seat but won 13 per cent of voters, emerging as the third-largest party in terms of vote share. Now as the result of the 2020 local election suggests, it has further consolidated its position in Kerala and dislodged the left and Congress from many constituencies.
Congress is being abandoned by the Christian community of Kerala which, along with Muslims, was a major vote bank for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The rising dominance of Muslims in Congress and UDF together forced the Christians to incline more towards the LDF and the BJP.
The minority appeasement policy of the UDF was a rallying point for the BJP, which tried to consolidate the Hindu vote by combining the Nair, Ezhava, Brahmin, and the Scheduled Caste votes along with the disgruntled Christians.
In the last few months, BJP has got a lot of positive coverage in the state especially since Metroman E Sreedharan joined the party and declared CM candidate. In the 2021 assembly election, either Sreedharan will be on CM chair or BJP will emerge as a major opposition party overtaking Congress and the regional parties.