Will BJP, Congress Make a Dent in Kerala 2019 Polls?
Video Editor: Vikram Venkateswaran
Cameraperson: Rizwan J Kamarudheen
Producer: Smitha TK
The main national parties, BJP and Congress, are trying to make inroads in South India in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Kerala has been in the spotlight in the last few months since the Sabarimala issue gained momentum, and both political parties have been trying to make a connect with people. Now, Congress President Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Wayanad and many believe this is an attempt to reenergise the grand old party in the south.
But how are the people of Kerala looking at this crucial race?
The Quint traveled to Thiruvanthapuram and spoke to students of University of Kerala, Kariavattom campus to find out how they look at parties politicising the Sabarimala issue, if either the BJP or Congress have their vote, and what they want from the next leader.
‘Sabarimala Cannot Be a Poll Issue’
Many people believe the two parties are using the Sabarimala issue to garner votes.
“We know about BJP, right? They are the ones who say what the country needs is Hindu and Hindutva. That the others have not contributed at all. This (Sabarimala issue) is a golden ticket for them during the election season. Didn't we see what all happened in the north when Babri Masjid was demolished? They are using the same format,” said Pravitha, a student of University of Kerala.
And others believe that the issue was politicised to such an extent that these political parties are not talking about integral issues like sanitation, safety of women and development.
“Last year we had a great flood and not even 5% of the people received promised Rs 1,000. I have many friends who said, ‘This government is eager in spending crores and lakhs of rupees in getting two women there (up Sabarimala temple). I am still there with no home, no water, what should I do? For whom should I vote?” asked another student Ravikrishna.
Sharon said that it is time political parties stop dividing people based on caste and religion and pitch candidates who can work for the welfare of the community as a whole.
“All the parties who are talking about secularism during elections, they look at the religious populations over there (that district). Look at the northern side, they will always keep the Muslim League there. Why? Look at the Kottayam area... Christian candidates. Look at Trivandrum area, Hindu candidates. All of them are secular parties. What are they doing? Are they trying to fool us?,” asked Sharon.
Need a Change of Attitude over Policies
Some women said that a prime issue that needs to be addressed this elections is the safety of women. While Kerala is the most literate state in India, women are still scared to step out after dark. And they believe that it is not enough that parties install CCTV cameras and deploy women police force but also ensure that their ministers do not speak derogatory of women and treat them as equals.
“If we look at Malayali history, you’ll see that women are always fenced. And people give a symbolic understanding that it’s like a flower pot. To keep it safe and beautiful, we keep a fencing around it so that nobody can hurt it. That’s the same way how women are ‘protected’ in Kerala. But that’s a totally absurd concept.”Sharon, Student, University of Kerala
When asked if BJP and Congress will make an impact, the students said that BJP has earned a lot of hatred because of their ‘forced nationalism’ and ‘Hindutva agenda’. As for Congress, the students said they wanted more youngsters to be included in the party especially people from the South so that the leaders can connect better with the people.