Exit Polls Give NDA Over 20 Per Cent Vote Share In Kerala — What's Driving BJP's Rise In A State Dominated By Congress And Left?

S Rajesh

Jun 03, 2024, 11:56 AM | Updated 12:03 PM IST

BJP's rise in Kerala politics (Swarajya Illustration)
BJP's rise in Kerala politics (Swarajya Illustration)
  • The NDA secured 15.6 per cent of the vote in 2019.
  • The exit poll forecasts for Kerala have caught the attention of people due to the vote share projected for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). While the Axis My India poll predicted 27 per cent, the Times Now ETG Research poll predicted 18 per cent and Today’s Chanakya predicted 28 ± 3 per cent. 

    This is a huge growth for the NDA, which secured 15.6 per cent in 2019 and 10.82 per cent in 2014. The BJP is also likely to open its account in the state for the first time, as per the exit polls.

    What could have been the reasons for such a strong show by the NDA, you may ask?

    There are multiple reasons.

    ‘Modiyude Guarantee’ catchphrase has clicked well with the electorate

    The Malayalam version of the Hindi slogan, ‘Modi ki guarantee’ has resonated well with the people of the state because a large number of people have benefited from central government schemes like Ujjwala, PM Kisan, PM Awas etc.

    The efficient delivery of the benefits of these schemes, i.e., timely delivery of money in the bank accounts through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) is in sharp contrast with what the LDF government has to show — delayed payments of welfare benefits due to the prevailing financial crisis in the state.

    Everyone knows Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to be prime minister

    Unlike in 2019, when there was a narrative that Rahul Gandhi would be the next Prime Minister and there was an anti-Modi sentiment in the state, this time Prime Minister Modi is at the peak of his popularity and it is almost certain that the NDA would return to power with a good majority.

    This is likely to be reflected in Wayanad itself, where Gandhi is staring at a victory with a reduced margin.

    Anti-incumbency against Pinarayi Vijayan led LDF Government

    Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is increasingly unpopular due to the financial crisis and allegations of corruption.

    Not being able to pay the social welfare benefits and salaries on time coupled with the scams in cooperative banks such as the Karuvannur Cooperative Bank in Thrissur has affected common people and led to anti-incumbency.

    The BJP took up the issue strongly. Prime Minister Modi even said that he is examining ways for the government to be able to return money seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to those affected.

    INDI Alliance: Congress and Left are rivals in the state and partners outside

    People in Kerala were able to see through the opportunistic alliance made by the INDI grouping. The UDF and the LDF fighting against each other in the state, while being partners elsewhere, was seen as contradictory. The BJP also left no stone unturned to drive this message. Its leaders repeatedly stated that it was the only real opposition in the election.

    BJP’s Christian outreach seems to have paid rich dividends

    Over the past year or so the party made multiple efforts to reach out to Christians. While the spark was lit by Archbishop Joseph Pamplany’s statement stating that Christians would vote for the BJP if rubber prices were increased, the party took it further through programs like the 'Sneha Yatra' and bringing in well-known faces like P C George. Prime Minister Modi himself met a number of Bishops in New Delhi. 

    The community had started moving to the BJP due to issues like love jihad, the growing influence of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in the UDF and the row over the share of minority scholarships. 

    According to the Axis My India poll, there was an increase in support for the BJP among Christians by 11 per cent.

    BJP's strong candidate selection

    Starting from Thiruvananthapuram, where the party fielded Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar to take on Shashi Tharoor, making it a high-profile contest, to the candidature of Suresh Gopi in Thrissur, or Sobha Surendran in Alappuzha, or Anil Antony in Pathanamthitta and K Surendran in Wayanad, the party had put up its best faces to take on the UDF and LDF.

    This has not only taken the fight to the opponent but also ensured that the party is able to make considerable gains in vote share.

    Also Read: Kerala 2024 Exit Polls: UDF To Win Most Seats, BJP Likely To Open Account, LDF Could Go To Third Place

    S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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