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Keerthi Prakasam | The News Minute | July 15, 2014 | 6:11 PM IST  Kerala is one of the few states in the country where the Left still has a presence. Even when they are not in power, they are always in the news. This is one of the reasons why even when the country apparently danced to the tune of the Modi wave, many people swore on their lives that the Bharatiya Janata Party will never be able to open its account in Kerala. As always, in the 2014 General Elections, the state saw its two traditional alliances – the United Democratic Front and Left Democratic Front, grabbing all 20 seats in the elections. The national winner BJP and the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party, were left behind. Despite the fact that the party did not win a single seat from the state during the elections, there were some changes in the voting trend, which points to a more positive future for the party in Kerala. But more importantly, it also brings to our attention that this newly found support for the BJP comes from the vote share of the Communist Party India (Marxist) in Kerala. This General Election, the Congress’s vote share stood at 31 percent, while the CPI (M)’s was just 21.59 percent and the BJP’s share was 10.33 percent (6.4 in 2009). Though there was sizeable depletion in the vote share for both the major alliances – the LDF and the UDF, the LDF’s vote share dipped by about 10 percent. In 2009, the total vote share for LDF was 30.48 percent.  Will this lead to a change in the political landscape of Kerala? Is some portion of the red colour in the state gradually changing into saffron? Well, Kerala’s BJP President V Muraleedharan seems to think so. With new hopes owing to the BJP’s victory in the recent elections, the BJP is readying itself to enter Kerala politics, with a never before seen optimism. Speaking to The News Minute, Muraleedharan asserts: “I believe our party is on the threshold of entering the mainstream politics in Kerala. Our assessment of the general elections gives us good results. BJP’s vote share rose from 6.4 percent to 10.33 percent in Kerala. We had a lead in almost 4 assembly segments, though Congress won in many of these places defeating us, the fact remains that we stood second, and ahead of the CPM in some key constituencies like Thiruvananthapuram and Neyyatinkara”. What worked this time for the party?  Two factors contributed to the party’s better days in Kerala – Narendra Modi and the misgovernance of the Left and the Congress governments that ever came in power in the state. An important factor that the party noticed was that this time, we cut into the left’s vote share. The Congress’s hold in the state is pretty much untouched, but CPI (M)’s ground level support is faltering. This is because people are finally realizing that the words of Left leaders are nothing but hollow. They say they stand for the minority, but nothing good comes out of their stand, simply because they do not act. All these years they spread rumors that we stood for upper caste people, but when they understood that was not the case they are beginning to switch sides. But how did they understand that BJP was not an “upper caste” party?  “Our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi came down to Kerala before elections, on February 9 to attend the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha’s function. Further he also came down to inaugurate a function in Sivagiri and also to kick start the birthday celebrations of Mata Amirthanandamayi Amma in Vallikavu” With Modi actively becoming a part of the functions organized by various caste groups in Kerala, their (people’s) opinion of the party changed. Our party stands for the minority, unlike the CPM who just claims to be for the minority. Eventually, it is the peoples’ disenchantment with the existing strong parties in the state that is proving to be a boon for the BJP. (Pulayar Maha Sabha is an organization of one of the most powerful Dalit caste groups in Kerala – the Pulayars. Sivagiri is a pilgrimage centre in Varkala where the tomb stone of Kerala’s great thinker and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru is located. Though his teachings of “one caste, one religion and one god” is accepted universally, in Kerala a large number of his supporters come from his own Ezhava caste, which is officially classified as a Backward Caste. Mata Amrithanandamayi Amma, a spiritual leader also is from the Ezhava caste.) What about the recent mass level defection of CPM cadres to BJP? The shift in opinions is not just a ground level phenomenon. In the last six months around 2,000 cadres of both Congress and the Left has joined BJP through the state leadership. But party entry also happens at the grass root level, without the party’s state committee getting involved, so the actual figures may be higher. A majority of them are from the Left and this is because they realized that the Left is all about tall words and zero actions Does the party consider the Aam Aadmi Party as serious competition in Kerala? The thing is there is no question of competition. When AAP initially entered Kerala I told everyone to support them. If someone does good work, appreciate them, and I hoped that they would do good work. But to my dismay, the little noise they ever made was during the elections. Since the party itself thinks that the scenario is getting better for it in Kerala, what are its plans for the 2016 state assembly elections?  Yes, we are very optimistic this time. In fact, as soon as the party’s election review meeting was over we started our preparations for the state elections. We will reveal further details soon. In Kerala, various factors like the Church affect the polls, and the church is usually perceived to be pro-Congress. What is the party’s stand on this?  This is a democracy and everyone should be given the right to choose his/ her candidate. Any kind of institution cannot tamper with their right to do so. What are the party’s plans to capture mass level support in the state?  As of now, with Modi coming to power the BJP is being accepted by a lot of people, of all communities. To expand on that, we are setting up a Booth Level Central Body that will meet once every month to brief people about the central government’s pro-people policy.”

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