Kerala

BJP braces for the big test

kin to the two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, of Waiting for Godot , political Kerala throws a question on the eve of every Assembly election in the State. Will the BJP open its account this time?

Unlike in earlier polls, the BJP sees itself on the cusp of ending its dry run in the State’s traditionally bipolar politics. Even its detractors admit that the BJP is the only party that had seemed to be on a growth curve, eating into the vote share of both the Congress-led UDF and the CPÍ(M)-led LDF.

Today, leaders of the BJP-BDJS alliance have also started claiming that they are a serious contender for power in the State. This stems from its recent electoral pushes: veteran BJP leader O. Rajagopal clocked more votes than both the coalition nominees at Kazhakuttam, Vattiyurkavu, Thiruvananthapuram, and Nemom Assembly segments in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. Riding on the pro-Modi wave, the party registered over 12 per cent of votes State-wide.

Then again, Mr. Rajagopal put up a big fight in the Aruvikkara Assembly by-poll, increasing the party’s votes from 7,600 of 2011 elections to over 34,000 votes there. That apart, the party had won 1,250 wards, in the local body polls in November last. It polled almost 17 per cent in 72 Assembly segments. The saffron party’s vote drawing quotient showed that it holds sway over sections of the Nair, Ezhava/ Thiyya, backward communities and Dalits in the State.

Nevertheless, the State leadership has been unable to gel with the strategic planning blue printed by the party Central unit which sees the Assembly polls only a preparation for the next Lok Sabha polls in 2019. The reasons are many: from its own warring factions to a lack of cohesiveness among its new found constituents, besides the interference of the RSS. The anointment of RSS pracharak Kummanam Rajasekharan, a political greenhorn, as BJP chief laid bare his inability to take on both coalitions.

The party’s organisational set up has remained somewhat lethargic even with the backing of the well-oiled RSS machinery. Leaders are still dithering on whether to give a prominent role to former south India organising secretary P.P. Mukundan, who has officially returned to active politics. Sensing these shortcomings, including the hiccups faced at candidate selection, the Central leadership had stepped in to appoint actor Suresh Gopi as a star campaigner, to push the party strategy to try and effect a hung Assembly. But for effective management, the party may seem to need someone of considerable manipulative skills like Mr. Mukundan, who is still waiting to be appointed as the NDA coordinator in the State.

The candidates are heavily banking on the proposed election rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose presence in the State at the five venues when campaigning gets to the last lap next month, is expected to rouse the electorate.

In any case, the State Assembly polls will be a litmus test for both the Central and State leadership.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 10:25:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/bjp-braces-for-the-big-test/article8515361.ece

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