THIRUVANANTHPURAM: The non-BJP parties, particularly the LDF, seem to have succeeded in retaining their influence among the Hindu population in Malappuram Lok Sabha bypoll if the BJP’s poor performance is any indication. Despite riding the Modi wave elsewhere in the country and the stupendous victory in the recent Uttar Pradesh elections, the BJP's lacklustre show has proved yet again that Kerala is not an easy state for the saffron party. While the BJP was not expecting any dramatic shift among the Muslims who constitute the majority in the constituency, it did bank on the Hindu votes to improve its tally. Observers say that while the UDF managed to grab the major chunk of Muslim votes, the LDF succeeded in not only keeping its support base among the Hindus intact but also registered significant gains in other places.
Instead of taking a soft stand on Hindutva politics, the Left took the BJP head on exposing the killings of minorities in the name of cow. The CPM didn’t spare the hard-line Muslim organisations openly declaring in election meetings “we don’t need the SDPI votes.” Perhaps the CPM’s open stand against parties like SDPI also helped in creating a favourable response among secular and democratic Hindu population. The BJP had made a bombastic claim of registering a six-fold increase in its tally from 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it secured 64,705 votes.
However, it ended up getting just 65,675, recording an increase of less than 100o votes. This is perhaps the BJP’s worst performance in the elections and by-elections held across the country recently. The CPM succeeded in exposing the double standards of the BJP on the cow issue. Party candidate Sreeprakash’s statement on providing quality beef and K. Surendran's challenge to slaughter cows in Kerala (there is no ban on cow slaughter in the state) gave the LDF an effective issue to expose the Sangh Parivar. While none expected the BJP to win Malappuram, the failure to increase its vote share has certainly put spokes in the wheels of BJP’s mission Kerala plan.