BJP rises amid LDF and UDF clash in Kerala

Lok Sabha election results in Kerala showed that the LDF has failed to retain its hegemony while the BJP has managed to bloom the lotus.

Amid a tough battle between the LDF and the UDF in Kerala, the BJP not only managed to secure a seat but also became the second runner-up.

The BJP won a sit amid LDF vs UDF battle in Kerala

The United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Indian National Congress (INC) has been dominant in Kerala, winning 17 out of 20 parliamentary seats. According to the final results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections published by the Election Commission of India (ECI), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has finally wrested a parliamentary seat in Kerala with actor-turn politician Suresh Gopi’s victory against VS Sunil Kumar of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

Kerala has been a political battleground polarised between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the UDF. Even though the BJP’s parental body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had built a strong organisational presence in the state and engaged in bitter rivalry with the CPI(M), it failed to translate its prowess into votes. Thus, hitherto the BJP failed to win a single parliamentary seat in the state. It only managed to win an assembly seat during the 2016 polls, which remained its best performance in the southern state. 

However, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections changed the equation for the saffron party. 

The final results show that the PJ Joseph-led UDF has won 17 seats, including 14 by the INC, two by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and one each by the Kerala Congress and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). 

The state’s ruling LDF, which won a surprising consecutive electoral victory in the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections, could only repeat its 2019 performance with one seat won by the CPI(M) in Alathur.

Gopi’s victory from Thrissur against CPI’s Kumar comes as a major shock to the CPI(M). The BJP started its account in Kerala for the first time contesting from Thrissur, where the CPI and the CPI(M) had won nine times since 1952. Gopi has secured 412,338 votes and maintained a lead of 74,686 votes against Kumar and 84,214 against K Muraleedharan of the INC. In 2019, Gopi lost the constituency to the INC’s TN Prathapan.

Gopi’s victory in the constituency is so significant that even the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi mentioned it during a rally organised by the party at its Delhi headquarters to celebrate its third consecutive victory.  

“Our workers in Kerala served the people and made a lot of sacrifices. They waited for generations. I won’t say years, their wait was for generations. That wait has finally yielded a result,” Mr Modi had said.

In many of the constituencies, the BJP managed to narrow the margin between the runner-up LDF candidate and its own.

The BJP’s victory in Thrissur and the LDF’s routing would impact the state’s political landscape, especially during the 2026 Kerala Assembly elections, when the incumbent LDF will face a tough challenge from the UDF and the far-right forces.

This lead of the BJP in Kerala is a result of the saffron party’s focus on the Christian community of the region in pursuit of votes. The Christian community makes up 18.38% of the total vote. 

INC leader Rahul Gandhi won in Wayanad with a margin of 364,422 votes against his opponent Annie Raja of the CPI. The CPI had earlier raised an eerie alarm over Mr Gandhi’s plan to contest from Wayanad against its ally in Delhi rather than contesting against the BJP.

Shashi Tharoor, the incumbent member of the Parliament (MP) from Thiruvananthapuram, won his fourth term from the constituency. Mr Tharoor defeated former Union minister of state for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Adoor Prakash of the INC won in Attingal defeating the CPI(M) candidate V Joy, while the party’s general secretary KC Venugopal defeated his nearest rival AM Ariff of the CPI(M) to win from Alappuzha. 

The second term of Pinarayi Vijayan’s CPI(M)-led government has inculcated resentment among the voters, which might also have aided the UDF. Moreover, the INC’s plan to focus on the concerns of the minorities and attract their votes worked in Kerala, where a swing of the LDF’s Muslim and Christian votes has been reported.

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