‘Narrative changing to NDA’s favour in Kerala’

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 25, 2016

The BJP-led front has been able change the narrative to its favour in Kerala; all it needs is strong leadership skills, says senior BJP leader PP Mukundan.

“The narrative has changed from whether the BJP will win any seat this time, to how many it potentially will,” Mukundan told BusinessLine.

Mukundan, who returned to the party after being away for a decade due to ‘forced circumstances’, shares a close rapport with Prime Minister Modi thanks to their association from 1991 to 2006. He is confident he would be able to ‘work’ on this camaraderie to Kerala’s advantage.

According to him, even the BJP’s detractors have agreed that the party is in with a chance in Kerala this time round. “As far as I can see, this is a big change.”

This has, in turn, led to desperation in rival camps of the Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Opposition CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

They are feverishly working away at ‘mutual adjustments’ to counter the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Mukundan asserts.

Youth votes

This is more or less akin to what the CPI (M) and Congress are doing to thwart the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. This will on the contrary work to the NDA’s favour, Mukundan says.

A major deciding factor is the new generation. It doesn’t belong either to the Congress, Left or even the BJP. But a certain ‘Modi factor’ is playing in their minds, as was on show in the recent panchayat elections.

The BJP had polled the maximum number of voters from the young voters. Even women voters favoured the party. The party cannot simply afford to forfeit this early bird advantage.

“If you look at it, a party can claim a 30 per cent of committed voters. Another 20- to 30 per cent are floating votes. Polling percentage ranges between 70- to 75 per cent in Kerala. This leaves a 20- to 25 per cent to be tapped, which is crucial.”

The party national leadership is aware of this. This is reflected in their choice special candidates – cricketer S Sreesanth for a seat in the Thiruvananthapuram Assembly constituency or actor Suresh Gopi, Rajya Sabha nominee.

Party’s mission

The party’s mission is to win as many seats and capture maximum votes. Assuming Sreesanth loses a close race, he always has a chance as parliament elections are due in another three years – or 1,000 days.

So these are calculated moves by the party. And these are future investments. “According to my information, Sreesanth is drawing large crowds wherever he goes,” Mukundan said.

It reminds him of the terrific run made by rank outsider Kerala Varma Raja of the then Hindu Munnani in 1984 in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency.

Raja had stunned political observers by polling more than a lakh votes. “It is all about packaging your product. And this is what the BJP and the NDA should be doing here.

“This explains the logic behind the launch of candidates such as Sreesanth. They will make an impression on the non-aligned, non-committed or impartial voters.”

Published on April 25, 2016
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