Not much gain for BJP in Kerala

The CPI(M) believes the BJP’s ambitious ‘yatra’ in Kerala was a blessing in disguise for the Left and did no good for the saffron party.

While the BJP is not yet sure of the exact impact it created through ‘Jan Raksha Yatra’, the Left party’s initial analysis is that there was an “effective counter” to the narrative that the saffron party was trying to set against them.

The BJP feels that they have successfully managed to bring to national attention the “violence perpetrated by the CPI(M) against political rivals” though they are not confident about how it would electorally benefit them in the future.

While CPI(M) central leadership marched twice to BJP headquarters during the yatra to protest against RSS-BJP violence, saffron party supporters organised daily marches to AKG Bhavan.

The BJP Core Committee in Kerala would meet soon to analyse the results of the ‘yatra’. The protest march throughout Kerala was organised to encourage the cadre and divert attention from the corruption charges against some leaders in the Medical College controversy.

Senior CPI(M) leaders acknowledged that the BJP managed to rally its supporters around the yatra but their reading is that it could not touch a chord with people.

They cite social media commentary to buttress their point. The CPI(M) had taken an unprecedented initiative to create a counter narrative on the ground as well as in the cyber world. To the surprise of the CPI(M), even non-Left supporters too joined their bandwagon to counter BJP.

The cancelling of BJP chief Amit Shah’s much publicised march through the village of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, subsequent allegations against Shah’s son Jay and the decision to field divisive saffron leaders like Yogi Adityanath added teeth to the campaign, a senior CPI(M) leader told DH.

The comments by central leaders against Kerala with Shah, Adityanath and others questioning Kerala’s development also worked in our favour, he said.

Amid the high-pitch campaign against CPI(M), the BJP also suffered electorally as it lost votes and slipped to fourth in bypolls in Vengara Assembly constituency in Malappuram where the yatra had passed through. It had finished behind SDPI, a Muslim outfit, and could not garner over 8,000 votes as expected.

For the BJP, there is still trouble in the NDA in the state. One of the influential allies, Vellapally Natesan-led BDJS has been creating noises against the party and one of the immediate tasks would be to mollify them.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 20, 2017)

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