UDF tsunami drowns Left, BJP in Kerala

By winning 19 out of the 20 seats, the Congress-led front breaks records

Updated - May 23, 2019 10:58 pm IST

Published - May 23, 2019 10:56 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

UDF candidate Shashi Tharoor giving sweet to Adoor Prakash in Thiruvananthapuram

UDF candidate Shashi Tharoor giving sweet to Adoor Prakash in Thiruvananthapuram

By winning 19 out of the 20 seats in the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala, the United Democratic Front (UDF), led by the Congress, has registered a dramatic, if not a historic, victory. It has broken all kinds of records, be it in terms of the number of seats, winning margins or the scale of electoral outcome.

The presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, irrespective of what happened in Amethi and in national politics, did prove to be a game changer for the UDF. His image of a strong opponent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was instrumental in triggering a massive consolidation of minority votes in the UDF’s favour. The minority votes were cast rather decisively against the Modi government.

The victory margins also suggest that the UDF has also succeeded in attracting the votes of the majority community, going a long way in neutralising the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had set its heart on opening its account this time.

Sabarimala issue

The UDF appears to have benefited from the standoff between the Left Democratic Front government and the BJP over the Sabarimala issue related to entry of women into the hilltop shrine. The traditional Christian-Nair equation has worked well for it in Central Travancore, which was the epicentre of the Sabarimala agitation.

Another major factor that helped the UDF taste victory was the fact that it had fielded the best candidates.

The electoral outcome could be debilitating for the LDF, particularly the CPI(M), which has been on the backfoot in recent times.

The clean sweep by the UDF of Malabar constituencies, particularly Kannur and Kasaragod that admittedly have Assembly segments reckoned as impregnable fortresses of the CPI(M), should make that party’s leadership introspect. The UDF’s victory also halts its attempts to make inroads into minority votebanks at least temporarily. The LDF government’s failure to tackle post-flood development issues that cut across caste, religion and community also appears to have worked against it.

The BJP might not have succeeded in breaking a long-standing “political curse” of not winning a Parliament seat from Kerala but significantly enough, the party crossed the three-lakh threshold in Thiruvananthapuram and notched up over close to 3 lakh votes in two other constituencies, not to mention the incremental increases it made in several others.

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