With only 20 seats, Kerala has never had major say in shaping national polity. Perhaps alive to this fact, the state has always remained preoccupied with its own brand of bi-polar coalition politics, dividing its mandate between Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF. Thus, when the 2014 results saw 12 seats going to UDF and eight to LDF, there should’ve been nothing untoward, but for the fact that the nation had decided to give a decisive mandate to a non-Congress party by returning 282 BJP MPs, thereby ensuring that no matter which front the MPs from Kerala represented, they would not sit in the treasury bench.
The Kerala results, that will result in a presence of one-fifth of the emaciated Congress bench strength of 44 MPs as well as a lion share of five out of the CPI(M)’s decimated presence of eight MPs in the Lok Sabha, would point to a situation where people from the state would hold centre stage in Opposition politics in the next five years.
That is an unlikely scenario, however, as historically elected representatives from Kerala have rarely assimilated well into Delhi politics. That said, some of these MPs could disprove this theory by going on to cement their place as tall Parliamentarians.
At the state-level, it was billed as an election with much at stake, including CM Oommen Chandy on his own volition taking ownership for its outcome. Now, Chandy says he is quite satisfied with the outcome despite the number of UDF MPs falling from 16 to 12, considering the narrow majority his government enjoys and that the Lok Sabha constituency-wise showing during the 2011 Assembly polls had LDF leading in 11 seats. For the LDF too, it can be argued that they gained, since their strength doubled, from four seats in 2009 to eight now. This, despite some huge setbacks such as the abject defeat of Politburo member M A Baby to former mate and leader of breakaway RSP, N K Premachandran, and its “invited” candidate Dr Bennett Abraham fetching up an unacceptable third in the capital that saw sitting MP Shashi Tharoor edge out veteran BJP leader O Rajagopal.
It is time for BJP to chart out strategy on consolidating votes it polled in at least five constituencies—Thiruvananthapuram (2.82 lakh), Kasargod (1.72 lakh), Pathanamthitta (1.38 lakh), Palakkad (1.36 lakh) and Kozhikode (1.15 lakh)—into potentially winnable positions in the 2016 Assembly elections. But that cannot happen without the saffron party positioning itself as a desirable ally to at least one, if not more, regional parties.
With NDA candidates between them accounting for 19.4 lakh or 10.83 per cent of the 1.79 crore votes polled in Kerala, it is no secret that some regional parties that regularly get bullied by their senior coalition partners would not be averse to such overtures. Truth is, initial parleys to this end may already have begun.