BJP Aims for Breakthrough in Kerala

Southern State Lok Sabha 2024, Explore the intense electoral battle in Kerala as UDF leads with Congress at the helm, BJP seeks to make history, and LDF strives for power. Stay updated on Kerala's political landscape, voter insights, and election forecasts. Kerala's high literacy and development indices make its electoral dynamics uniquely challenging for political parties

Mar 20, 2024 - 22:39
Mar 20, 2024 - 20:37
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BJP Aims for Breakthrough in Kerala
Southern State Lok Sabha 2024

Southern State Lok Sabha 2024 - Kerala's Electoral Battleground Heats Up: UDF Dominates as BJP Aims for Breakthrough Amid High Stakes

With 20 seats at stake in the Lok Sabha from the Southern state of Kerala where polling is scheduled in the first phase on April 19, the ruling BJP-led NDA has heavy stakes considering it has no seats and is aiming for 400 seats in the Lok Sabha and the BJP setting  target of 370 for itself.

As of now, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has 18 seats with the CPM –led Left Democratic Front (LDF) having two seats while the BJP –led NDA has yet to open its account in the state and ironically it is the LDF which is in power in the state.

Kerala which is the country’s 21st largest state was formed on November one, 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, and is the 13th-largest Indian state by population.

The state has the lowest positive population growth rate in India, 3.44%; the highest Human Development Index (HDI), 0.784 in 2018 (0.712 in 2015). With the highest literacy rate, 96.2% in the 2018 literacy survey conducted by the National Statistical Office, it has  the highest life expectancy, 77.3 years; and the highest sex ratio, 1,084 women per 1,000 men. Kerala is the least impoverished state in India according to NITI Aayog's Sustainable Development Goals dashboard and Reserve Bank of India's 'Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy'.

 Considering these factors and also that it being  the second-most urbanised major state in the country with 47.7% urban population according to the 2011 Census of India, the going indeed is tough for political parties. The state topped in the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals according to the annual report of NITI Aayog published in 2019. The state has the highest media exposure in India with newspapers publishing in nine languages, mainly Malayalam and sometimes English. Hinduism is practised by more than half of the population, followed by Islam and Christianity.

The economy of Kerala is the eighth largest in India with ₹8.55 trillion (US$110 billion) in gross state domestic product (GSDP) and a per capita net state domestic product of ₹222,000 (US$2,800)

Even in the 2019 polls, Kerala emerged as one of the states where the Indian National Congress (INC) secured a majority of seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) faced disappointment, failing to win a single seat.

Kerala boasts the highest voter turnout compared to any other state, emphasizing the need for political parties to effectively connect with its people.

In the 17th Lok Sabha Elections, the INC-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) emerged victorious by securing 19 out of the 20 seats, making Kerala the most successful state for the alliance.

Conversely, NDA is determined to improve its performance in the state and seeks substantial gains in the upcoming elections. Left parties have already announced their candidates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Kerala.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), contesting 15 seats, has finalized its list, which includes prominent figures such as MV Balakrishnan, MV Jayarajan, KK Shailja, Elamaram Kareem, V Waseef, KS Hamsa, A Vijayaraghavan, K Radhakrishnan, C Raveendranath, KJ Shine, Joice George, AM Ariff, Thomas Issac, M Mukesh, and V Joy.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (CPI) has also released the names of its candidates for the four seats it will be contesting. Notable candidates include Annie Raja, Pannian Raveendran, Arun Kumar, and VS Sunil Kumar.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had won 19 of the state’s 20 seats with the sole remaining seat going to the CPM-led LDF. The BJP-led NDA polled over 15% of the votes but was unsuccessful in winning a seat.

BJP has never won a Lok Sabha seat on its own in the state and will be looking to change that.

The voter turnout in the 2019 election in Kerala was 77.84%, up nearly 4% from the 2014 election. The UDF won 47.48% of the votes, snatching 19 seats while the LDF received 1 seat and 36.29%. The NDA got 15.64% votes and zero seats.

Responding to the announcement of the election schedule, CPM state secretary MV Govindan said there is only a slight change for Kerala in terms of dates compared to 2019.

 “In 2019, the polling date was April 23 and this time it’s April 19. So there’s not much change. The LDF will use all its political and organisational might to win the 20 seats in Kerala. The fight mainly is between the LDF and the UDF,” he said.

 Congress state chief K Sudhakaran said, “We are satisfied with the election dates and we are prepared for the fight. We had already finished all our booth-level activities. Our target is 20 out of 20 seats.”

 BJP state chief K Surendran said, “We are very confident that the NDA will do very well in the state this time. The people have taken up PM Modi’s guarantees. Even the LDF convenor admitted that the BJP’s candidates are very good.”

According to party sources, Modi is scheduled to arrive in the Kerala state capital on Tuesday for an official programme, where he will also participate in the concluding ceremony of the 'padayatra' organised by the BJP's state unit.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making regular visits to the southern states with the aim of fulfilling his dream of ending the electoral drought for the BJP  where the party has historically faced challenges in winning elections.

Almost a year ago, Modi unveiled his party's aspiration to secure power in Kerala. The announcement, made on March 2, 2023, came following the BJP's notable performance in elections within the Christian-majority states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, boosting confidence within the party.

While the state BJP is elated by the back-to-back visits of the Prime Minister to Kerala, hoping to win a few seats in the Lok Sabha polls in the southern state and fully banking on Modi's influence, both the CPI(M) and the Congress assert that the lotus will not bloom in the muddy political waters of the southern state.

Sandeep Vachasapathi, state spokesperson of the party expressed confidence in the party's prospects, citing increased focus from the central leadership and growing acceptance of Modi among Keralites. Vachasapathi claimed that Modi's appeal is transcending religious and sectarian lines. He dismissed concerns about past electoral setbacks, banking on Modi's charisma to overcome obstacles and secure electoral success for the BJP in Kerala. The BJP functionary said that their duty is to meet Modi's expectations, noting a rise in the PM's popularity among Kerala's people. 'According to surveys, about 40 per cent of voters in the state see Modi as the next Prime Minister of India,' he claimed.

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Sri Krishna Been in journalism for over 50 years starting with AIR (1972-76), PTI(!976-2005), Vijay Times (2005-08), The Statesman (2008-19). Currently panelist on TV channels. Covered Parliament, Sports, Politics, Defence, Foreign Affairs. Travelled abroad with Presidents R.Venkataraman, Dr S.D. Sharma, K.R. Narayanan, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.