THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It's a complete reverse sweep in Kerala. On a day the saffron party swept the Lok Sabha elections across the country, Kerala bucked the Modi wave and chose to stand with the Congress. The UDF recorded a landslide victory, winning 19 out of 20 seats. And what a humiliating rout for the Communists in India's only remaining Left bastion - Kerala!
Obviously, the Sabarimala factor made an impact, but not as predicted. While the CPM-led Left front faced its biggest ever electoral debacle, the saffron party, despite the Sabarimala factor in play, failed to bag even a single seat in God's own country. The results could well be termed as a repeat of the 1977 performance when the UDF won all the 20 seats.
The utter rout of the Left will have its repercussions in state politics too. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will have a lot to explain, especially on the Sabarimala front. This could even go a long way in redefining his future political ambitions.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran have already raised the demand for the chief minister's resignation, terming the verdict a fitting reply to Pinarayi's arrogance and the Left government's anti-people policies.
Alappuzha turned out to be a face-saver for the Left as AM Ariff, CPM's sitting MLA from Aroor, managed to wrest the seat from the Congress. Of the 19 UDF winners, the Congress bagged 15 seats, while two seats went to Muslim League, one to Kerala Congress (M) and RSP got one seat.
Of the nine MLAs who were in the fray, four got through. Of the 19 UDF winners, ten recorded a winning margin of more than a lakh, with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who contested from Wayanad clocking a record lead of 4.31 lakh.
The BJP, which had high hopes of winning at least two seats, failed to make it happen even this time around, managing a runner up position only in Thiruvananthapuram. However, the saffron party was able to poll more than 2.93 lakh votes in two other constituencies - Pathanamthitta and Thrissur.
On a day UDF candidates recorded upset wins even in traditional Left strongholds like Palakkad, Alathur and Attingal, Remya Haridas of Alathur and VK Sreekandan of Palakkad emerged as the UDF underdogs who had the last laugh. Senior Left leaders including two CPM central committee member PK Sreemathy in Kannur in addition to two state secretariat members - KN Balagopal in Kollam and P Rajeev in Ernakulam - ended up tasting failure.
Though it's widely expected that the presence of Rahul Gandhi may have resulted in minority consolidation in the state, such an electoral drubbing leaves the CPM with no options but to go for deep introspection. Terming the verdict unexpected, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the party would look into the factors that led to the defeat. In a statement here, Pinarayi said there was a strong anti-BJP sentiment in Kerala, following the widespread campaigns by the Left front, and this was what led to the current verdict.
The exit polls that predicted a landslide victory for the UDF in the state, turned out to be more than true. On the other hand, the BJP that had pinned its hopes on the Sabarimala issue and the Modi wave, ended up as losers, unable to open its account this time too.
BJP state chief PS Sreedharan Pillai blamed it on UDF's minority appeasement tactics. He expressed confidence that very soon the BJP would emerge as a viable alternative in the state. With the saffron party winning no seats from Kerala, the state BJP is sure to witness conflicts in the coming days. Whether the Narendra Modi cabinet will have any representation from the state is also to be seen.