Congress led-UDF in Kerala appears to be heading for a landslide in the state by continuing its lead in 19 of the total 20 Lok Sabha seats with AICC President Rahul Gandhi leading by over 380,000 votes in Wayanad.
With more than 90 percent votes counted in 17 constituencies, and over 80 percent in the rest, UDF candidates have secured comfortable leads, with nine of them crossing a margin of 100,000 votes.
The only consolation for the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led LDF was its performance in Alappuzha constituency, where its nominee A M Ariff is ahead of its Congress rival Shanimol Osman by a margin of 12338 votes after 93 percent of votes counted.
The BJP-NDA had also high expectations of opening its maiden LS account from the state this time, riding on the Sabarimala women’s entry issue, which saw protests breaking out after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict, permitting women of menstrual age to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple.
However, the saffron party could make its presence felt so far only in Thiruvananthapuram, where its candidate Kummanam Rajasekaran came second, trailing former union minister and Congress nominee Shashi Tharoor.
K Surendran, the BJP candidate in Pathanamthitta, the ground zero of Sabarimala agitation, is trailing.
The Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government had expected to repeat its 2004 performance, in which the Left Front won 18 seats, but they seem to be floored by a strong undercurrent generated by the Sabarimala agitation.
While Gandhi’s presence indeed helped UDF to put in an impressive performance, it seems they have greatly benefited from their stance opposing Supreme Court’s Sabarimala verdict, helping them to garner the anti-government sentiment, and denting BJP’s prospects in the process.
BJP leaders said they will redouble efforts to make inroads in the southern state the next time.
“The BJP will do well in Kerala in the next elections in the same way it has done in West Bengal and Odisha this time,” BJP national spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao told the media.
The drubbing in Kerala will significantly dent the Left’s presence in national scene, as in West Bengal and Tripura – once its citadels and now in fast retreat – they are set to draw a blank in this election.