Congress and Left hurt as bypoll results call bluff of NSS and SNDP: Kerala

Voters have shown caste and community satraps their place

In the elections to five Assembly constituencies in Kerala last week, it is clear that the biggest takeaway has been the fact that voters have shown caste and community satraps their place, The Telegraph reported.

Not only has the electorate underlined its secular credentials by denying the BJP another seat in the state Assembly, but it has also said a resounding “no” toself-proclaimed guardians of two dominant Hindu communities in the state – the Nair Service Society and the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) representing the Nairs and Ezhavas respectively.

This year, NSS chief G. Sukumaran Nair and SNDP general secretary Vellapally Natesan were said to have crossed all limits of political civility by openly pledging their communities’ support to the Congress and the CPM respectively.

Nair had earlier proclaimed himself to be the “Pope of Perunna”, Perunna being the headquarters of the NSS. This time the NSS which is said to maintain an equidistance from both, the Congress and CPM, directed its karayogams (branch offices) to mobilise Nair votes in favor of the Congress led-UDF candidates.
Karayogams had played a crucial role in bringing Nair women in thousands on to the streets during the early days of the agitation against the Sabarimala verdict in September last year. Nair perhaps thought he could repeat the same in the by-elections too.

In a bid to not be left behind, Natesan, who three years ago floated a political outfit and took it to the BJP-led BNA stable, declared that Ezhava votes would go in favour of the Left Front. Natesan’s political rivalry with Nair is well known.

While the NSS focused on its areas of influence, Vattiyoorkkavu in Thiruvananthapuram and Konni in Pathanamthitta district which were supposed to be safe bets for the Congress, the SNDP worked against the Congress candidate in the Ezhava backyard of Aroor in Alappuzha district which had never elected a non-communist candidate over the past six decades.

What actually happened
Kerala went for by-elections in five assembly constituencies – Manjeshwar, Konni, Aroor, Vattiyoorkkavu and Ernakulam.

The BJP recorded a total of 57,480 votes from Manjeshwar, similar to what it had gained in the last Assembly elections in 2016. The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) gained the top spot with 65,407 – a jump of around 9,000 from 2016 votes and the CPI (M) gained a total of 38,233 votes – a fall of around 4,000 votes from last year.

In Ernakulam, the votes of the BJP remained around the same as during the last Assembly election at around 14,000. The Congress saw a fall of 20,000 votes from 57,819 to 37,888 this year. In Aroor, the CPI (M) lost 15,000 votes to Congress – its vote share fell from 87,000 in 2016 to 67,000 in 2019. The Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) that had garnered 27,753 votes in 2016 lost around 10,000 votes to the BJP – with BJP getting 16,278 votes; and losing 17,000 votes to the Congress with the party jumping from 46,201 votes in 2016 to 69,327 votes this year.

In Konni, the NSS calls helped shift Congress votes to the BJP. While in 2016, the INC had recorded 72,000 votes, this year its share fell to 44,000. The BJP that had recorded 16,000 in 2016, saw a leap with votes jumping to 39,714 this year.

Vattiyoorkkavu saw BJP’s vote share drop to half – from 43,000 in 2016 to 27,000 in 2019. The Congress also saw a drop of 10,000 votes from 51,000 in 2016 to 40,000 in 2019. The CPI (M) jumped higher with 54,000 votes this year against 40,000 in 2016.

Vattiyoorkkavu and Konni which were supposed to be safe bets of the Congress, saw their vote shares drop, while the CPI (M) and BJP snatched its votes in the respective constituencies. The Congress lost two of its sitting seats in this election.

On the other hand, Aroor, humbling the CPI (M) elected its first non-communist candidate AdvShanimol Osman from the Indian National Congress who won with 69,327 votes.

In hindsight, both parties would have been better off without soliciting any specific community support. The political parties had given undue importance to these two organisations thinking they have a hold over these communities.

The results are for everybody to see.

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