After having considerably increased its vote share in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party is now set to enter the Kerala legislative assembly for the first time. While party insiders are of the opinion that the party would win at least five seats, political analysts give the party an edge in two seats: Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram district and Manjeswaram in Kasargod district.
While the former Union minister and one of the best known faces of the BJP, O Rajagopal, is contesting from Nemom, the party's firebrand young leader K Surendran who is currently the state general secretary of the party is fighting from Manjeswaram in Kasargod district .
The late K G Marar of the BJP had lost the Manjeswaram assembly seat in 1991 by a whisker to the Muslim League's Cherkulam Abdullah. The BJP has always been the second party in Manjeswaram.
BJP analysts and party think-tanks are of the opinion that the party lost in Manjeswaram primarily owing to a well-calculated political move of the Communist Party of India-Marxist to transfer some of its votes to the Muslim League, so as to prevent the BJP from entering the assembly. The question faced by the Kerala BJP is whether the CPI-M would not implement this plan once again to prevent its arch-rival from entering the state assembly.
The predictions and poll analyses are reaching the conclusion that given the popularity of Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and the party deciding on him to lead the elections, the CPI-M and the Left Front have an outside chance of retaining power, and this would work to the advantage of the BJP in Manjeswaram as the CPI-M may not opt for vote transfer this time round. "This is because the party does not want the League candidate to win, as even one seat may be crucial in the post-election scenario," said a source.
Jayalakshmi Bhat, a Gowd Saraswat Brahmin, has a winning chance from Kasargod. In Palakkad, C Udaya Bhaskaran Nair, the party's national council member, is also a likely winner as the BJP has done well in the panchayat elections. The BJP has another winning chance in Kattakada in Thiruvananthapuram district, where the party has fielded its national executive member and former state president P K Krishnadas.
The BJP is the main opposition party in six panchayats of the Kattakada assembly constituency. Another major factor which may work in favour of the BJP is the leadership of the state president V Muraleedharan. His advent, with the strong backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has worked wonders in the recent panchayat elections, with the BJP winning several seats, including six in Thiruvananthapuram corporation and finishing second in several constituencies with a margin of less than 50 votes.