THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress had deployed its senior leader K Muraleedharan to the battlefield in Nemom with a mission — close BJP’s lone account in the state and wrest the seat that the saffron party proudly calls its ‘Gujarat in Kerala’. Muraleedharan’s mission was successful in terms of ensuring BJP’s defeat but he indirectly ended up helping LDF’s V Sivankutty reclaim the seat.
As political observers put it, Muraleedharan turned out to be biggest spoiler for the BJP. His entry into the arena itself created quite a flutter with many predicting that the veteran leader would do considerable electoral damage to both BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan and Sivankutty. However, the voting figures reveal that he did more harm to BJP’s prospects than LDF’s.
The erosion of BJP votes in its biggest stronghold by around 12% was almost unbelievable. While BJP’s O Rajagopal polled 47.46% votes in 2016, Kummanam could garner only 35.54% of the votes. Predictably, a major share of the Hindu votes landed in Muraleedharan’s kitty thanks to his personal appeal as the late K Karunakaran’s son and also due to the NSS throwing its weight firmly behind the UDF, especially on polling day.
Muraleedharan polled nearly 23,000 more votes than the UDF candidate in Nemom in 2016. The UDF’s vote share which was below 10% in 2016 leaped to 25% in the constituency. However, not all the extra votes Muraleedharan polled for the UDF was from the NDA camp.
“There was a huge consolidation of minority votes against Kummanam in Nemom. Muraleedharan was also able to wean away a considerable chunk of these votes due to his constant bashing of BJP and Sangh Parivar,” admitted a BJP leader who was actively involved in the campaign in Nemom.
This explains why the votes polled in favour of Sivankutty too saw a dip this time. The LDF suffered an erosion of 3,305 votes when compared to the previous assembly election. However the Left managed to win the seat eventually by a narrow margin thanks to the massive damage Muraleeedharan inflicted to the NDA camp.
NEMOM - VOTE SHARE
Alliance - 2016 - 2021 - Change
NDA - 47.46 - 35.54 - (-11.92%)
LDF - 41.39 - 38.24 - (-3.15%)
UDF - 9.70 - 25.01 - (+15.31%)