In the 2021 Kerala assembly election, the prospects of BJP are looking very bright. Nairs and Ezhavas, two dominant communities of the state with 14 and 23 per cent of the state’s population respectively, are rallying behind the party. As per electoral surveys by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the two communities supported BJP in the last local body elections and are expected to vote for the party in the assembly election too.
On the Nemon seat, which is the only constituency where the BJP won in the 2016 assembly election despite 14.65 per cent vote in total, the party is expected to repeat the victory. Nemon seat has above 60 per cent population of Nairs and Ezhavs, the two dominant castes of the state. In the districts that have sizable Hindu community votes, the BJP has performed excellently in the last local body election as well as the 2016 assembly election.
BJP’s performance in Pathanamthitta district, the ground zero of the Sabarimala Protests, is noteworthy, where it not only retained the Palakkad municipality but also wrested the Pandalam Municipality from the LDF. Moreover, the party also won the Kochi Municipal Corporation by one seat, defeating Congress’s N Venugopal, who blamed it all on EVMs. “It was a sure seat. I can’t say what happened. There was no problem with the party. There was a problem with the voting machine. That may be the reason for BJP’s victory,” Mr Venugopal said.
“I have not decided to go to court with the voting machine issue so far. Will check what happened exactly,” he added.
BJP’s stance on the Sabarimala issue has certainly helped the party consolidating the Hindu votes, especially considering Congress’ flip-flop stance on the issue, the other alternative that the Hindu votes could have gone for. Speaking of the Saffron Party, the main reason behind its gaining 15% vote share was that people were fed up with the LDF-UDF system. The Modi factor and E Sreedharan, the Metro man who has been announced the Chief Minister candidate, would also work in the favour of the party.
The Hindu identity and sentiments, especially after the whole Sabarimala episode, are on a historic high and the BJP is hoping to secure the mandate riding on it. Moreover, Hindus make up just about 55 per cent of Kerala’s population according to the 2011 census.
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In the 2014 parliamentary elections, both the communists and the Congress lost to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in two parliamentary constituencies where Hindus comprise less than 40 per cent of the population.
In 18 out of the 20 constituencies, where Hindus make up over half the population, the Congress and the Communists have shared the spoils over the last two parliamentary elections. It is in these 18 constituencies the BJP hopes to gain the most because the polarisation by Muslims also means there will be polarisation in the Hindu community. For the Ezhavas and Nairs, Sabarimala has been an emotive issue and they have been at the forefront of the protests, going against the left.
The saffron party is trying to consolidate the Hindu vote by combining the Nair, Ezhava, Brahmin and the Scheduled Caste. Although, the BJP cannot bank much on minority voters, it certainly is targeting the Hindu base which has been so far splintered between Congress and the Left.
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