Lok Sabha elections: Four possible toehold spots for BJP in Kerala

IANS
In 2019, riding on the Sabarimala sentiment, the BJP sees a realistic chance for itself on at least four seats -- Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta and Kasargod.

The BJP secured 10 percent or more votes on nine Lok Sabha seats in Kerala in 2014 but barring Thiruvananthapuram, it came nowhere near even the victory mark. However, in 2019, riding on the Sabarimala sentiment, the party sees a realistic chance for itself on at least four seats -- Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta and Kasargod.

An analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha results showed that the party just stopped short of opening its account in the state when its candidate O. Rajagopal came second against Shashi Tharoor of the Congress in Thiruvananthapuram. Rajagopal had polled 32.09 per cent votes while Tharoor had got 34.09 percent.

This time, the BJP has fielded former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan from Thiruvananthapuram, who is putting up a strong fight in the post-Sabarimala environment. LDF candidate C. Divakaran is a popular Minister, making it a high-profile contest as all three candidates have a strong presence.

The BJP is sensing a chance in Pathanamthitta as well which was the hotbed of the Sabarimala agitation against the Supreme Court decision to allow entry of menstruating women into the temple ending the age-old tradition.

The BJP has fielded K. Surendran, who spearheaded the protests last year, from Pathanamthitta. The party had got 15.95 percent votes on the seat in 2014, one of the highest after Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod.

The Congress has fielded sitting MP Anto Antony, who is also a popular face. He had secured 41.19 per cent votes in 2014.

But it will be an uphill task for the BJP as past results show that in Kerala the winning candidates have mostly got around 40 per cent votes barring in a few seats like Thiruvananthapuram where Shashi Tharoor got considerably less.

The BJP is banking on the polarisation of Hindu votes to make an impact in Kerala which is dominated by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF).

The party's vote share across the state was around 10 percent, which went up to around 14 percent in the 2016 Assembly elections.

The BJP has tied up with Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), a right-wing party, which is contesting from Waynad against Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Alathur, Idukki and Mavelikkara. Kerala Congress (T), another BJP ally in the state, is contesting from Kottayam.

In 2014, the Congress had won 8 seats while its partners IUML had won 2 and KECM 1. The CPI-M got 5 seats, ILDF won 2 and CPI got 1. RSP got one.

Seats where BJP had 10 percent or more vote share in 2014:

1. Pathanamthitta

BJP's M.T. Remesh got 15.95 percent votes and came third

Winner was Anto Antony of the INC with 41.19 percent votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress has placed bets on Anto Antony again

The BJP has fielded K Surendran who had spearheaded the campaign against the SC verdict on Sabarimala. Pattanmittha was the centre of Sabaramila agitation.

The Left has fielded sitting MLA Veena George of CPI-M

2. Ernakulam

BJP's A.N. Radhakrishnan got 11.63 percent votes and came third

Winner was Prof. K.V. Thomas of INC winning 41.58 percent of votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress has fielded sitting MLA Hibi Eden

CPI-M has fielded P. Rajeev, a former Rajya MP and one of the most popular faces

BJP has made union Minister K.J. Alphons as a candidate

3. Chalakudy

BJP's B. Gopalakrishnan got 10.41 percent votes

Winner was Innocent of CPI-M with 40.50 percent votes

P.C. Chacko of INC secured 38.93 percent votes

Candidates in 2019:

The Congress has fielded Benny Behanan, a two-time legislator

The CPI-M's candidate is again Innocent, a popular actor and comedian

BJP has fielded A.N. Radhakrishnan

4. Thiruvananthapuram

BJP's O. Rajagopal got 32.09 percent votes in 2014 and came second

Winner was Shashi Tharoor of INC who got 34.09 percent of votes

Candidates in 2019:

The most-watched contest in the state as all three candidates are strong as the BJP came closest to win its first Lok Sabha seat in Kerala from here in 2014.

Congress has renominated Shashi Tharoor

CPI has fielded high-profile Minister C. Divakaran

BJP's candidate is former Mizoram Governor Rajasekharan

5. Attingal

BJP's Girja Kumar got 10.53 percent of votes

Winner was A. Sampath of CPI-M with 45.67 percent votes

Bindu Krishna of Congress got 37.60 percent of votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress has fielded Adoor Prakash, a popular MLA from Konni

CPI-M has fielded A. Sampath, the sitting MP

BJP has fielded Sobha Surendran, a national executive member of BJP

6. Kasargod

BJP's K. Surendran got 17.72 percent votes

Winer was P. Kapunakran of CPI-M with 39.48 percent votes

Siddique of Congress got 38.72 percent votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress has fielded Rajmohan Unnithan

CPI-M has fielded K.P. Satheesh Chandran

BJP's candidate is Raveesh Thanti Kuntar

7. Palakkad

BJP's Sobhasurendran got 15 per cent of votes

Winner was M.B. Rajesh of CPI-M with 45.35 percent votes

M.P. Veerendrakumar of Socialist Janata (Democratic) Party got 33.78 per cent votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress candidate is V.K. Sreekandan

CPI-M has fielded M.B. Rajesh again

BJP has fielded C. Krishnakumar

8. Thrissur

BJP's K.P. Sreesan got 11.15 percent votes

Winner was C. N Jayaderan of CPI with 42.27 percent votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress candidate is T.N. Prathapan

BJP's candidate is actor Suresh Gopi

Rajaji Mathew Thomas is contesting for CPI

9. Kozhikode

BJP's C.K. Padamanabhan got 12.27 percent votes

Winner was M.K. Raghavan of Congress with 42.15 percent votes

Candidates in 2019:

Congress -- M.K. Raghavan, the popular sitting MP

BJP -- Advocate K.P. Prakash Babu, who was jailed recently for allegedly attacking women during Sabarimala protests

CPI-M -- A. Pradeep Kumar, a three-time MLA