As LDF eyes return in Kerala, who will ride if BJP rises?

Rajat Kain

FILE: FIle photo of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy.  Photo - PTI

FILE: FIle photo of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy.
Photo – PTI

Congress and the Left front — two extremely bitter contenders in Kerala, are allies in far other state fighting polls together in a bid to stay relevant at national scale. And this is among the reasons why the outcome of Kerala assembly polls will be very keenly followed.

Among other reasons, eyes will be on the performance of the BJP-led NDA, which is confident of entering Kerala assembly, for the first time ever.

The party ruling at the Center, which has a very miniscule footprint in southernmost state, is already being dubbed as a spoiler for either of the contenders. While its own vote share is not threatening, its alliance with Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), political wing of community’s social organisation SNDP representing powerful Ezhava community is seen as pivotal in the outcome of final tally.

Numerically strong Ezhava community, which constitutes 23% of state population, has traditionally backed the LDF. While an affluent section among the community has thrown its weight behind the Congress-led UDF. But now with BJP in fray, there are projections of Ezhava votes consolidating behind the BJP-led NDA alliance.

A slight percentage move away from the contenders in a bi-polar contest can easily alter the final tally.

BJP-genBut away from BJP’s entry in Kerala’s political landscape, there is a bit of history loaded against the incumbent. No government have had a second term since 1980. A trend which was also confirmed if one dares to bet on the exit polls, which showed LDF coming back in the office.

Over-ruling the exit poll predictions, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has expressed hopes of defying history and coming back with second term.

Chandy government has off-late seen several issues which has certainly taken sheen off its image. Solar scam pointed fingers at him, while the bar bribery controversy consumed his Finance minister and strong man KN Mani.

Mani, who hasn’t lost his Pala assembly seat since 1965, is tipped to be on a thin ice.

On the other hand, the CPI (M)-led LDF is sure of its comeback given their strong performance in last winter’s local polls throughout the state, where they captured nearly 60% of seats. It was a stellar performance for the front which suffered a blow in 2014 Lok Sabha polls leading on just 56 assembly segments with 40% votes, while the rival UDF led on 80 seats earning 42% vote share.

Meanwhile, the statistics, while confirming gains for LDF, throws up an interesting picture of rise in BJP’s share.

The party which got 6% votes but couldn’t open its account in 2011 Assembly polls, registered a jump of nearly 5% in its vote share and led on 4 assembly segments. And with an opening in a local body of Palakkad, the party is claiming that their debut on Assembly seat is just round the corner.

It is now to be seen that whom the rise in BJP’s vote share, if it happens, will dent the most – UDF or the LDF?