KERALA POLLS: BJP, Congress face common enemy in the Left

kerala-election

Today’s elections to the Kerala state assembly creates an unusual dilemma for supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Kerala — their long-term interest is in ensuring a Congress win to keep the Left out, but doing so will come at the expense of the BJP continuing to look like a promising new car that just never starts.

ENEMY’S ENEMY

There are two reasons why NDA has a ‘soft corner’ for the Congress-led United Democratic Front.

First, the overwhelming majority of the people who are now in the NDA camp come from traditional backgrounds that have formed the solid foundation on which the Congress Party was built. While the rising clout of Christian leaders in state Congress may have pushed them to seek greener pastures in the NDA; by sensibilities, they are still very much ‘Congressmen’ and carry an inherent revulsion towards the ‘violent’ politics of the Left.

Secondly, the current brand of ‘communal minority politics’ of the UDF is exactly the kind of stuff that has helped the BJP build its brand among the Hindus and another term for the UDF will do it a great deal of good. Besides, by failing to come back to power, the Left would have proven itself incapable of countering UDF’s brand of communal politics — a charge that the BJP makes constantly.

FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL

This also means that today’s polls in Kerala are a fight for survival for the Left parties. If they fail to achieve majority when the results are declared on Thursday, there is almost zero chance that there will ever be a Left-led government in Kerala.

The BJP, not surprisingly, is acutely aware of these facts, and there are unconfirmed reports that it could even help the Congress-led front beat the 71-seat-mark in the ongoing elections.

While the BJP could help the Congress-led UDF come back to power by helping them win 10-12 seats, the UDF could return the favor by allowing the BJP to open its account for the first time in Kerala’s state assembly.

Even without any such give and take, it would make strategic and tactical sense for the NDA to ensure a win for the Congress Front.

FISHING FROM THE HINDU POND

The reason why the Left parties and the BJP see each other as mortal enemies in Kerala has to do with the common pool of voters from which both draw their support.

Around 46% of the state’s population comprises Christians and Muslims. Among these groups, it is estimated that 65% support the UDF and only around 25% support the Left.

As a result, the BJP thinks it is will be easier to dislodge the Left and capture its Hindu voters than to discredit the UDF and win over the Muslims and Christians to its side.

However, BJP’s task is complicated by the internal division among the Hindus.

In Kerala, the Hindu population is divided into the ‘Savarnas’ (caste Hindus) and the Bahujans or ‘avarnas’ (cultural Hindus).

The Savarnas comprise about 15% of the total population of Kerala. The remaining 38% or so of the state’s population are the Hindu Avarnas — primarily Ezhavas (21% of the population) and Dalits (14-15%).

In terms of voting behaviour, the Savarnas closely resembled the minorities — with about 70% supporting the Congress and only 20% going with the Left. However, over the last five years, with the sidelining of Hindu leaders in the Congress, their voting pattern has undergone a sea change.

It is estimated that as of now, about 50% of Savarna voters  in the state support the BJP, with the Left and the UDF splitting the rest more or less evenly.

When we come to the Avarnas, about two-thirds of votes traditionally found their way to the Left parties and the remaining third to the Congress.

Over the last years, and for the reasons already mentioned, Congress’ support among Avarnas has fallen from about 33% to about 15% — with the 18% going directly to the NDA.

However, when it comes to Avarnas, and in particular Ezhavas, it is not just the BJP that is benefiting from this vote shift.

Vellappalli Nateshan, a prominent leader among Ezhavas, floated his own party — the Bharatiya Dharma Jan Sena — earlier this year and joined the NDA. He is now supposed to have the backing of around a third of this populous community, boosting the NDA’s overall vote share by around 7% (one third of 21% Ezhava votes.)

In conclusion — going by anecdotal evidence and trends from recent local body polls — among Hindus as a whole, support for the BJP-led NDA has reached an all-time high of around 35% — well ahead of the Congress’ 15-20%, and only slightly behind the Left Front’s 45-50%.

If the Left fails today’s elections, the BJP is confident that the electoral equation among Hindus will reverse after another five years under the UDF and it will command 50-55% or more of the Hindu votes, with the Left replacing the BJP as Kerala’s ‘unwinnable’ third front.

The NDA could, at that point, bring in Christian votes using the same strategy that it used for Ezhavas — by bringing in a party with deep roots in the target community.

On the other hand, a victory for the Left in today’s elections will force the BJP to soften its Hindutva ideology and try to attract minority voters by targeting the Congress on planks such as corruption and sycophancy — a task that is much more difficult that attacking the Left parties for their ‘outdated ideology’ and ‘violent politics’.



Katju says SP will defeat BJP in UP Elections; Demonetization, Akhilesh to aid Former Supreme Court judge and a keen observer of Indian politics, Markandey Katju has predicted a win for the Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.BJP, which is seen as a strong contender by many, would be negatively impacted due to the impact of demonetization and the clean image projected by SP chief m...
Mayawati warns Muslims: Akhilesh vs Mulayalam will bring BJP to power Bahujan Samaj Party leader Kumari Mayawati has warned Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh against continuing to vote for Samajwadi Party, claiming that the current fight between SP leader Mulayam Singh and his son Akhilesh would split their votes in two."I urge you not to let your vote get divided between Akhilesh and Mulayalam groups. If you do that, the...
COLUMN: Why it’s hypocritical for Rahul Gandhi to accuse Narendra Modi of taking money from co... One of the interesting aspects of the current accusations and counter accusations around the alleged funding of BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha campaign by corporate houses is the sheer hypocrisy of it.Let's see why.According to third-party figures, an estimated Rs 23,000 cr was spent by candidates and political parties on the 2014 general election.Assu...
Subramanian Swamy attacks Ratan Tata for investing money in Britain Keeping up his attacks on Tata Group interim chairman Ratan Tata, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy fired yet another salvo at the veteran industrialist for investing huge amounts of money into Britain, instead of doing so in India.Tata Steel had acquired UK-based Corus for around 6.2 billion pounds in 2008, making the company the fifth largest steelmaker in ...
Taxes will be made “more reasonable” in cashless India – Jaitley Taxes in India will be made more reasonable as more and more transactions switch to the cashless mode, finance minister Arun Jaitley said."As more and more transactions are made cashless, they will come under taxation.. (and with this) taxes will be made more reasonable, both direct and indirect," Jaitley said today.The finance minister was giving ou...
Allahabad High Court says Triple Talaq ‘unconstitutional’ The Allahabad High Court has today said 'triple talaq' or the divorcing of women under Islamic laws -- is unconstitutional in Indian law.The provision "violates women's rights" and no personal law board is above the Indian constitution, the court said while hearing a petition filed by a Muslim woman from Bulandshahr.The constitution of India assu...
BJP asks all MPs, MLAs to submit bank statement to party As part of the ongoing crackdown on tax evasion and illicit funds, the Bharatiya Janata Party has asked all its MPs and MLAs to submit the full details of their banking transactions from Nov 8 onwards.The central leadership of the party will examine the bank statements of these representatives to check for any illegal or suspicious cash transactions....
7 ILLOGICAL REASONS to oppose DEMONETIZATION The current demonetization move by the Narendra Modi government has seen a lot of accusations and counter-accusations being levelled by both the supporters and opponents of the move.While the government has tried to deal head on with the official accusations levelled by opposition political parties, a much more subtle misinformation campaign is going o...
Rahul Gandhi seeks Parliamentary probe into ‘leak of information’ ahead of demonetizatio... Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi dismissed charges that the opposition was not speaking in one voice on demonetization and said the entire opposition is united in their demands.Asked whether the opposition parties wanted a roll-back, Gandhi said there were only two demands -- one that Modi should speak in Parliament, and the secondly that there shoul...
Kerala merchant’s union strike against black-money currency move Kerala's merchants and traders union has asked its members to shut all shops from Tuesday to protest the Center's decision to swap currency notes to control black money.The central government has withdrawn existing 500 and 1000 rupee notes and asked everyone holding the same to get them exchanged with new notes from their nearest banks.The move is se...
Chidambaram says Congress didn’t demonetize because it was costly Former finance minister P Chidambaram said the previous Congress governments had also considered attacking black money by swapping currency notes, but decided against it as it was considered too costly.Talking to mediapersons, Chidambaram said the cost of swapping the notes would be between Rs 15,000-20,000 cr and the benefit should at least be equal to ...
Will currency ban hit non-BJP parties in UP elections? The currency ban could give the Bharatiya Janata Party an upper hand in the upcoming UP election by denying funding to opposition parties.The Congress has already attacked the move to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes with effect from midnight today.Since nearly the entire money used to fight elections in India is in 'black', the sudden and unexpected mov...
Religious man denies breastmilk to newborn for 24 hrs A man from God’s own country has come under social media fire for preventing his wife from feeding their newborn child over religious reasons.The incident took place on Wednesday around 2 PM, at the EMS co-operative hospital in Mukkam in Kozhikode district, Kerala, where 24-year-old Hafsath refused to breastfeed her newborn baby, when the nurse asked to ...
Finally, Kerala CM takes a stand on Lawyers vs Media fight Almost three months after the tussle between various lawyers associations and journalists first hit the headlines, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today took a stand on the issue, urging lawyers to let the media do their job."The lawyers should realize that they do wrong in blocking journalists from accessing the court premises," Vijayan said in a...
Amit Shah wishes ‘Vaman Jayanti’ on Onam It is customary for politicians to wish people on festivities. Doing so is supposed to give the audience a feeling that the politician connects with them and shares in their joy.However, it is also possible for this to have unintended consequences in a different cultural context.BJP President Amit Shah wished his followers 'Vaman Jayanti' (Brahmin Bi...