BJP’s credible alternative claim suffers huge blow in Thrikkakara

Erosion of 2,500 votes and loss of security deposit in Thrikkakara would demand more convincing answers from the leadership

Published: 07th June 2022 05:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2022 05:12 AM   |  A+A-

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BJP Flags (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For the BJP, which drew a blank in the assembly elections just a year ago, a defeat in a byelection may not come as a shocker. Much on expected lines, the party’s state leadership has vowed to “study” the Thrikkakara defeat in detail and take “corrective measures”. But political observers feel successive defeats have dented the party’s image as a strong and credible alternative to the LDF and the UDF in the run-up to the 2024 general elections.

BJP leaders contend that since Thrikkakara is considered a “C class” constituency with low chances of winning, the poor performance was expected. But the erosion of 2,500 votes and loss of the security deposit, despite fielding one of its most senior leaders, would demand more credible answers from the leadership.

“No doubt, there was huge resentment among the voters against the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s arrogance and its anti-people policies. But in a pro-UDF constituency like Thrikkakara, it went in favour of the Congress-led front as voters wanted to ensure that the LDF gets defeated at any cost,” said A N Radhakrishnan, BJP state vice-president and the party’s candidate in Thrikkakara.According to party insiders, though Thrikkakara witnessed BJP leaders of various factions campaigning together, strong undercurrents were at play.

“The official faction had prevailed upon a reluctant Radhakrishnan, who is identified with the rival camp, to contest. Though the rare show of unity in the party during campaigning was a good photo-op, it never went down to the booth level,” said a senior leader. Meanwhile, the BJP’s efforts to woo Christian voters by rallying behind Kerala Janapaksham leader P C George also failed to yield the desired results.

“P C George’s claim that the LDF government was soft on radical Muslim groups may have found support from hardline Christian voters. But it seems the UDF, which is perceived as a stronger rival to the LDF, reaped the benefit,” said Jacob George, a political analyst. Political scientist G Gopakumar said the BJP has neither succeeded in winning over Hindu voters — a sizeable number of whom are still hardcore Left supporters — nor made inroads into the Christian belt. “The scenario was ideal for the BJP to emerge as an alternative to the Congress, which is on a decline nationally. However, in Kerala, they have failed miserably on that front,” he said.

What next?
Many in the party feel it is highly unlikely that the state leadership, which escaped unscathed even after an ignominious defeat in the assembly elections, will have to answer for the bypoll rout. “These electoral setbacks will continue as long as the current state leadership’s failures are covered up by leaders in charge of party’s organisation nationally,” said the leader of a rival faction.

However, there are also chances that the BJP’s national leadership, which is determined to capture southern states, may experiment with a surprise change of guard in the state unit, in the run-up to the parliament elections. In Tamil Nadu, the national leadership had appointed former IPS officer K Annamalai as BJP state president barely a year after he joined the party.


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