New quota shot in arm for Kerala BJP

Further strengthening this relationship is the decision of the BJP government at the Centre to offer economic reservation.

The decision of the BJP government at the Centre to offer economic reservation is a shot in the arm for the BJP unit in Kerala in its efforts in Hindu vote consolidation.

This further brightens the expectations of BJP in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

BJP Kerala chief P S Sreedharan Pillai had said in a party meeting couple of months ago that the row over the entry of women of menstruating age to Sabarimala is a "golden opportunity" for the party in Kerala.

Though it was morally unbecoming, the statement is proving to be politically true as the Nair Service Society (NSS), which represents the prominent upper-caste Hindu Nair community in the state, has already openly aligned with the BJP over the Sabarimala row.

Further strengthening this relationship is the decision of the BJP government at the Centre to offer economic reservation. It has been a long-pending demand of the upper-caste communities. NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair already expressed his happiness over the BJP government's decision.

Political analysts feel that the strengthening relationship between the BJP and NSS would give an electoral advantage to the saffron party in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, for which the party has high hopes.

The Nair community represents 12% to 14% of the state's population. In Thiruvananthapuram district, the Nair community's representation is 15 to 17%.

The Nair community used to be the traditional vote bank of the Congress-led UDF. However, now the equation has changed in favour of the BJP after the Sabarimala row and the economic reservation.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's victory margin of close to one lakh votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls plunged to around 15,000 in 2014.

This gives enough reasons for the BJP to pin high hopes in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency.

Veteran BJP O Rajagopal, who gave a nail-biting finish to Shashi Tharoor in 2014, later emerged as the first ever MLA of the BJP in the Kerala Assembly by winning from the Nemom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram in 2016.

The BJP is now trying to find an acceptable candidate to cash in on the favourable conditions.

The party was even exploring the option of bringing back Mizoram governor and former BJP Kerala unit president Kummanam Rajasekharan, who gave a tough fight in the Vattiyoorkavu constituency in Thiruvananthapuram city in 2016 Assembly elections.

Actor-turned Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi is also among the probables.

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