Even the promise of “quality beef” for his voters could not change things for BJP candidate N Sreeprakash in the bypoll for Malappuram, Kerala.
The BJP’s hopes of forming a government in states like Odisha, West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura and Telangana will have to wait, as the verdict of the Malappuram Lok Sabha by-election has shown a decrease in the party’s vote share compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2016 Assembly elections.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the largest ally of the Congress in Kerala, has retained the Malappuram seat, winning the by-election by a huge margin of 1.7 lakh votes.
The BJP came a distant third, with a decline in vote share from 7.42 percent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to 7.01 percent during the by-poll. PK Kunhalikutty, the IUML’s winning candidate, secured 5,15,325 votes, while the LDF’s MB Faisal came second with 3,44,287 votes. The BJP trailed far behind with just 65,662 votes.
The BJP had hoped to increase the number of votes to about one lakh from 64,705 that it polled three years ago. However, they ended with an increase of only 964 votes and a fall in vote share.
Compared to the 2016 Assembly elections, the UDF gained five percent, the LDF lost one percent while the BJP-led NDA lost about 0.5 percent. As compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the UDF gained 3.8 percent, the NDA lost 0.5 percent and the LDF gained 8.34 percent of vote share.
In the 2014 elections, the IUML’s vote share was 51.29 percent, while the CPI(M) claimed 28.47 percent and the BJP 7.58 percent. Political critic Jayasankar said that it does not come as a surprise that the right-wing party was not able to improve its vote share.
In the 2014 elections, there was a Modi wave. But the political climate has changed now. Even otherwise, however hard the BJP works, they won’t ever become a decisive factor in a constituency like Malappuram, which is Muslim-dominated.Jayasankar
He added that like the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Welfare Party, the BJP should have abstained from the elections.
The core vote of the BJP in the constituency is 20,000 votes, which can fluctuate due to changes in the political climate. But the vote base won’t ever go up beyond a point. Also by-elections are not the same as a general election, in which the verdict can’t be viewed as an assessment of political equations.Jayasankar
Social worker and political analyst Hameed Chennamangaloor said that the BJP couldn’t make any impact in the by-election as it couldn't even add 10,000 votes to its tally.
However, he believes that that its performance cannot be seen as a reflection of the electorate of the entire state. “Malappuram is a fortress of the IUML. The Muslim community there is so conventional that the AP Abubacker faction of the Sunni Muslims, which normally support the Left, didn’t vote for the CPI(M)’s candidate in 2014, solely because she was a woman. The LDF had won only once there – in 2004. The BJP candidate, on the other hand, doesn’t have the influence to resist the adverse factors.”
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