KERALA

A shot in the arm for BJP chief

Sreedharan Pillai's stand against `sale of votes' bears fruit

Roy Mathew

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The improved performance of the BJP in the elections to the local self-Governments comes as a morale booster for the BJP State president, P. S. Sreedharan Pillai.

Mr. Pillai had assumed office announcing that hijacking of BJP votes by other parties would not be permitted. The idea was to press for reciprocity in adjustments and demonstrate the party's strength.

Mr. Pillai pushed his line in the party amidst a lot of factionalism and backbiting. If his line had failed, he would have found it impossible to continue as the State president. (Faced with intense groupism, he was contemplating resignation.) While taking a stand against `sale of votes' this time, the party allowed local units to have local adjustment with other parties.

Open alliances

It is notable that the "open alliances" announced by Mr. Pillai did not succeed in most places in terms of numbers. It came a cropper in municipalities such as Kalpetta, Chavakkad and Pala where the party claimed to have open alliances. In Changanassery, BJP supported independents could gain three seats, but with the support of the NSS locally.

The party actually gained in areas where it was already known to be strong (such as Palakkad) through local adjustments. It had open alliances locally in Kasaragod district with both the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

It also fought single-handedly at a few places in the district.

On the other hand, tactical understandings helped it open accounts in Thalassery and Kodungallur municipalities.

In Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the party pushed the UDF to the third place in 18 wards. However, the party's performance here is bad compared to its performance in the Lok Sabha elections. (It is to be noted that former Union Minister of State, O. Rajagopal, was the candidate in the election from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency while party candidates in the Corporation election were not well known figures.) In Thiruvananthapuram district as a whole, the party doubled its number. This, more or less, reflects the true strength of the party in the district.

New task

The new task Mr. Pillai and his party faces now is to formulate its strategies for the hung councils where the BJP has a decisive presence. The meeting of the office-bearers of the party in Kochi on Friday will be taking decisions in this regard. A core committee is meeting on Thursday to chalk out the strategies. The BJP stands third in terms of votes share in the State. It may now face a challenge from the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) for this place. Despite the presence of pro-BJP elements in the party, the DIC(K) had kept a distance from the BJP in the civic polls.

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