A survey by Kerala’s biggest broadcasting group, Asianet in association with agency C fore, has predicted rising influence for the Bharatiya Janata Party among young voters in Kerala and predicted that the party will send its first ever representatives to the Kerala Assembly in 2016.
UPDATE: Asianet has published a new survey as well. The results are here.
Paradoxically, the biggest beneficiary from the rise of the BJP will be the Congress Party, which gets most of its votes from minority communities in the state.
The BJP’s growth will be fueled by the defection of some Hindu voters from the Left parties in Kerala. This defection in turn will ensure that the Left will not be in a position to defeat the Congress Party, which will continue to remain in power.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front or UDF, however, will get fewer votes than last time because of corruption allegations, the survey found. In all, the UDF will go from 45.8% of total votes four years ago to 43% this time, the survey said.
However, an even more drastic decline will be seen in the vote-share of the Left parties as a section of young Hindu voters choose to go with the BJP. The Left Democratic Front will see its vote share fall to 39% from 43.63%.
The biggest disruptor will be the BJP, which will increase its voteshare from 6.1% in 2011 to 14% in 2016.
The opinion poll was conducted in the second week of July, and mirror the developments in the Aruvikkara by-poll. In Aruvikkara by-poll, which was held in early July, the Congress Party had a smooth sailing due to a massive fall in the number of Left voters accompanied by a tremendous surge in the number of BJP voters.
Many political pundits believe that the Congress Party is encouraging the growth of the BJP in the Kerala — dividing the opposition (largely Hindu) votes and ensuring that it remains in power.
Kerala has never re-elected any state government since the state was formed about 65 years back. Power has always rotated between the Left Front and the UDF every five years as the voters here are known for kicking out their high levels of dissatisfaction.
That remains the case even now, but BJP’s emergence will ensure continuation of Congress’ rule next year, the survey found. Only 24% of the respondents felt that the performance of the current Congress-led government is “good” or “very good”. In fact, only 4% (out of the 24%) felt the performance was “very good”.
Despite this, the survey predicted a total of 73-77 seats for the UDF out of a total of 140 seats, while the LDF will get 61-65 and the BJP will win 3-5 seats.
The BJP has never won a Parliament or State Assembly seat in Kerala.
However, the party is seen as making inroads into young (presumably Hindu) voters of both UDF and LDF.
For example, while 19% of voters under 25 years of age prefer the BJP, only 7% of those above 50 years of age would vote for the party.
Proportionately, there is a 7 percentage point decline in the vote share of the Congress Party as one moves from the above-50-year category to the below 25-year category.
Indicating a sharper defection of votes from the LDF to the BJP, there is an 9 percentage point decline as one moves from the above-50-year voter to the below-25-year voter.BJP leader MT Ramesh said the party is not happy with the projected vote shares and it will continue to work with “influential (community) leaders” to iron-out any misunderstandings and increase the party’s votes.
The BJP is currently wooing SNDP – the most influential non-political organization among the Ezhavas – the biggest community within the Hindus. The Ezhavas, who have Buddhist and Jain ancestry, comprise about 50% of all Hindus in Kerala and have traditionally shied away from voting for the BJP. The BJP is also expected to make overtures to the Nairs, who comprise about 22% of the total Hindu votes in the states, in the coming days. Unlike among Ezhavas, the BJP has already managed to make deep inroads of support among Nairs from whom many of the party’s state leaders are drawn.
It is also expected that the Muslim League could break away from Congress Party and form an alliance with the left parties if Left is defeated and the Muslim League gets to nominate the next chief minister of Kerala.