KOCHI: Has the BJP reached a stagnation point in its growth trajectory in Kerala? The results of the Lok Sabha election, where the party failed to raise its vote share, points to the need for the party to look beyond its traditional vote base in Kerala.
The party’s vote base grew from 6.4 per cent in 2009 to 14.9 in 2014. However, despite the Sabarimala issue, the party’s vote share grew only by 0.5 per cent, which was worrying.
The BJP was hoping to raise its vote share beyond the 20-per cent mark and win Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta seats exploiting the sentiments of the Ayyappa devotees who were hurt by the incidents at Sabarimala.
Though the role of the BJP-RSS workers in foiling attempts to facilitate entry of young women to the hill shrine was appreciated by the devotees, it failed to convert the support into votes. According to a senior leader, a section of the Hindus, who vowed support to the efforts to protect the traditions and practices voted for the Congress candidates to ensure the defeat of the CPM.
Based on a directive from BJP president Amit Shah, the BJP in Kerala had initiated steps to win the confidence of the Christian community in Kerala much before the elections. Though the leaders held talks with the Church representatives and Minister of State for Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam sanctioned funds for certain churches, they failed to win the confidence of the community.
“There are some apprehensions among the Christian community, which we need to address. The party has been trying to reach out to them and the Orthodox community had indicated their willingness to support us. However, it did not happen. There are issues like blocking of NGO funding and the request to facilitate the visit of Pope Francis to India. Even Kannanthanam did not get the support of the community. Some of the demands of the community will be met by the new government to dispel the misgivings,” said BJP spokesperson B Gopalakrishnan.
“Many Hindu families had parted ways with the CPM after the Sabarimala incident. They decided to teach the Pinarayi government a lesson and voted for the UDF to ensure the defeat of LDF candidates. Though BJP candidates could not win, we are happy to see the rout of the LDF. Cases were slapped on around 35,000 devotees for participating in the Sabarimala agitation.
Around 10,000 people were arrested and more than 100 people were put in jail for more than a month. We are happy that the electorate in Kerala has given a befitting reply to the LDF for the atrocities against devotees,” said Sabarimala Karma Samithi general convenor SJR Kumar.