Rajagopal scripts history with win

Rajagopal scripts history with win

Rajagopal scripts history with win

For the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Kerala story comes with promise and concerns. The party did win its first ever Assembly constituency in the state through 86-year-old O Rajagopal in Nemom but failed to emerge as an alternative force in Kerala’s famously bipolar political spaces.

Rajagopal is a leader with roots in the Jana Sangh. The former minister of state and Rajya Sabha member has tasted electoral success after seven failures, both in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. He defeated CPM’s sitting MLA V Sivankutty.

Despite a high-profile campaign and claims of a close fight in at least 20 constituencies, the cheer has come through an old warhorse who has been, also on his personal charisma, on a good run in recent elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed five election rallies in the state while BJP national president Amit Shah and senior leaders including Rajnath Singh and Rajiv Pratap Rudy also came down to Kerala for the poll campaign.

The party’s alliance with the backward Ezhava community outfit Bharat Dharma Jana Sena failed to make any impact. The decision to field cricketer S Sreesanth in Thiruvananthapuram and tribal activist C K Janu in Sultan Bathery also backfired. An impressive performance in Manjeswaram – where K Surendran lost by only 89 votes – notwithstanding, the party failed to do well even in seats it had counted on as “winnable”, including Palakkad, Chengannur and Kazhakuttam.

The BJP, despite having built on a strong RSS base in the state, has repeatedly failed to translate cadre support to electoral success. The party is likely to find a positive spin from the fact that it managed a second-spot finish in seven constituencies. The alliance with BDJS reflects a willingness to accept the new realities of coalition politics. But with that experiment failing,the party will have to look at the long-term viability of the arrangement.

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