Thiruvananthapuram: The tenure of the 14th Kerala Legislative Assembly is set to expire soon. The state election is likely to be announced in a couple of months. The ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front government is upbeat about its prospects to retain power but it is wary of the threat posed by the BJP as the latter can come close to win or at least spoil the poll prospects of LDF and UDF candidates in more than one-third of the total 140 seats contested.
The CPM has called for extra vigil in the wake of the significant surge made by the BJP in various assembly constituencies in the recently concluded local body polls in the state.
According to CPM's assessment, the BJP has managed to secure 20 per cent or more votes in as many as 35 assembly constituencies if the vote share in local body polls held in December are analysed.
The vote statistics of the past two local body polls indicate the BJP could not increase its total vote percentage. In the two elections in 2015 and 2020 respectively, the total percentage of votes secured by the party was below 15 per cent. However, this time the BJP managed to get more than 25,000 votes in 35 constituencies. More importantly, in 55 assembly constituencies the party secured more than 20,000 votes. As a result, the number of assembly constituencies where the BJP secured less than 10,000 votes has for the first time come down to 25.
Constituencies to watch
The 35 assembly constituencies where the BJP has made a significant surge as per the vote figures of the local body polls are: Nemom, Vattiyoorkavu, Kazhakootam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kattakada, Parassala, Kovalam, Neumangad, Attingal, Chiriyankeezhu, Aruvikkara, Karunagapally, Kundara, Chathannoor, Eravipuram, Kunnathoor, Kottarakara, Thrissur, Manalur, Kunamkulam, Irinjalakuda, Kodungallur, Puthukkad, Nattika, Palakkad, Malampuzha, Chelakara, Ottapalam, Shoranur, Nenmara, Kunnamanalam, Kozhikode North, Uduma, Manjeshwar and Kasaragod.
Why you can't ignore BJP
The BJP threat is credible as the majority mark in the state legislature is 71 and the party fancies its chances in at least three dozen seats. In the 2011 assembly elections, the Congress-led UDF had won 72 seats, just one more than a simple majority. However improbable it may sound now, if the BJP can put a moderately good electoral show, the prospects of a hung assembly cannot be ruled out in Kerala.
With just three months left for the polls, the CPM leadership has directed its leadership and committees to work hard in the 35 constituencies with the objective of neutralising the increasing influence of the BJP.
The CPM estimates that the BJP is targeting 20 per cent votes in the state since such a vote share would provide the saffron party the required foundation for making big strides in future if not in the upcoming assembly election.
In the review meetings being held at lower levels of the CPM, its state leadership has flagged the BJP’s growth in some of the 14 districts as one of the major issues to be taken up for deliberations.
Concern for UDF too
Observers say the UDF will have to be more vigilant about the votes that the BJP is taking away from the two major political fronts other than the latter-led NDA. In 2016, the UDF suffered a major setback in assembly constituencies which it was poised to win because of the large number of votes secured by BJP candidates.