An Indian view on history, current affairs and politics

March 27, 2023

Kerala: BJP’s southern conquest

While the overzealous media is busy propping up AAP in an apparent attempt to pit Kejriwal’s party against BJP in order to contain Modi, BJP is busy not only consolidating it’s strongholds but breaking new grounds. The glee with which congress is willing to endorse Kejriwal betrays the animosity displayed by AAP towards congress and hints towards a tacit understanding between both. If the assumption is that such a plan would succeed against Modi then probably they fail to recognize the genius of Modi. He is not just a master strategist and a skilled orator but a genius in organizational skills. It’s no secret that BJP has always relied on RSS for support and growth. It’s for the first time that RSS has got a shot in the arm with Narendra Modi’s presence.

Modi has himself been a RSS pracharak for long before he became Chief Minister. Not many know that behind his rise from a simple RSS pracharak to the most prolific politician of India lies a story of organisational success. The experience he has gained from extensive travels across most parts of India, serves him in good stead when it comes to strategy and planning. While the mainstream media was busy churning out propaganda against Modi, he was touring states where BJP wasn’t present. The RSS has always been at the forefront of breaking new ground but Modi’s presence seems to have galvanized the cadre and helped gravitate Hindus towards BJP.

In an address to RSS and BJP workers in Kerala in March 2011, Modi said, “No one ever thought that the Bharatiya Janata Party would rise to power in Goa. This was because of the hard work by party workers, expecting nothing in return. Their perseverance and selfless efforts bore fruits. The same can be said about states like Kerala and Nagaland, where party workers have set aside everything in life. Their dream of opening the party’s innings in their states will definitely see fruition. In Kerala, there have been martyrs too. I salute those soldiers whose heads were cut, those fishermen of Kerala who were killed. See in Kerala, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura: Karyakartas have given their lives too. There are workers who have worked from generation to generation. They never got fame- their names never appeared on TV or newspapers. But they have worked for the party,” to loud cheers and applause from audience.

His speech is not without substance. The recent spate of murderous attacks on RSS and BJP cadres underscores this point. The viciousness of attacks show the increasing desperation of dominant parties at losing significant vote share to BJP. .

As per analysis of 2011 state elections, BJP emerged strong in constituencies of Nemom,Kasargod,Manjeswaram,Kattakada,Palkkad, Kunnamangalam, Puthukkad and Vattiyoorkavu. In Nemom vote share increased from 5.58% to 37.65%, In Kasargod vote share increased from 28.38% to 37.08% and in Manjeswaram vote share increased from 31.32% to 33.11%. The BJP is the main opposition party in six panchayats of the Kattakada assembly constituency. Strong backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had worked wonders in the last panchayat elections, with the BJP winning several seats, including six in Thiruvananthapuram corporation and finishing second  in several constituencies with a margin of less than 50 votes.

In October last year, the C-Voter survey predicted BJP will get 16% vote share in Kerala. This is a massive 10% jump in just two years. Since October, there have been several favorable signals emerging from the state favoring Modi which is hinting at growing BJP’s prospects for upcoming parliamentary elections. The recent statement of Kerala’s largest OBC group SNDP chief Natesan’s remarks favoring Modi indicates further growth of BJP vote bank. SNDP holds about 20% Hindu votes in Kerala. 

There were reports that Kerala Congress (M) is taking a softer stand towards BJP as they fear that their candidate in Kottayam won’t win the election unless BJP offers help. Jose K Mani, the son of Kerala Congress(M) Chairman and State Finance Minister K M Mani will be contesting from Kottayam constituency in Kerala. Ruling coalition’s Chief whip from Congress(M) P C George’s presence in run for unity program is being seen in this light.

In order to make any significant gains in the state BJP cannot rely only on Hindu votes. They’ve been working with Christian groups in the state. If statements of Christian leaders in the state are anything to by, BJP has succeeded in this attempt. “Followers of the Jacobite faction in Kerala do not have any problems with Modi. We also have believers in Gujarat. They too don’t have any difficulties with Modi. In fact, they applaud his developmental efforts,”  said Thomas Mar Timotheos, metropolitan of the Kottayam diocese of the church. Earlier Modi had received a stamp of approval from Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, but the religious leader later withdrew his statement under media pressure.

According to media reports, BJP is trying to setup an understanding with the Mar Thoma Syrian Church that has some 1 million followers across the world. The Church’s senior Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrysostom had shared the platform with Modi when he attended the birthday celebration last week of Mata Amritananandamai. Modi had also attracted a lot of support with his visit to Sivagiri mutt last year.

BJP leadership is also trying to rope in Bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirapally for supporting Modi when he visits Kerala next time. It’s a fact that the bishop was nominated as member of the Planning Commission of India, the highest planning body in the country, when the BJP-led coalition government was in power in New Delhi a decade ago. BJP is also trying to make contacts with Protestant groups including multi-billionaire evangelist and self-designated Archbishop KP Yohannan, who wanted a smooth relationship with the party in power.

Though BJP has never ever won any seats in Loks Sabha or assembly elections in Kerala, they now enjoy a better position in Kerala as they have approximately 20 percent vote share and they can very well become the deciding factor in polls. In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, IFDP a small party chaired by P C Thomas had got elected with the support from BJP. It was the first parliamentary electoral victory of a NDA member in the state. “We are happy that now BJP is no untouchable party in Kerala. This time we would like to field our own candidates in all the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala,” BJP state President V Muralidharan said.

BJP’s optimism in Kerala is based on increasing support for Modi in the state. With the Modi wave seeping the country, there is a high probability BJP will make a historic breakthrough in the state riding on Modi’s popularity.