Winning an assembly seat in Kerala has always been high on the agenda of the BJP national leadership. While neighbouring Tamil Nadu has been sending at least a couple of MLAs to the assembly, Kerala despite having a solid vote-bank of 12-15 lakh votes and the largest network of RSS shakhas has not been able to achieve this feat due to the highly polarised LDF-UDF front politics in Kerala and the 45 per cent Christian, Muslim population. Moreover, the BJP votes are scattered throughout the state. While BJP is the deciding factor as to whether the LDF or the UDF will win, it cannot win on its own. The winds of change came in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls when Shri P.C. Thomas, law minister of state in the NDA government, won in Muvattupuzha and union minister of state Shri O. Rajagopal garnered 2.50 lakh votes in Thiruvananthapuram. The BJP candidate Shri Udai Bhaskar won 1.50 lakh votes in Palakkad and the NDA received a whooping 18 lakh votes. This vote of the BJP was a reward for the massive development works initiated by Shri O. Rajagopal in Kerala during his tenures as minister of state in the railways and urban development ministry in the Vajpayee regime from 1999 to 2004. While all MPs of the LDF and the UDF were opposing the NDA government, Shri Rajagopal, a Rajya Sabha MP, initiated massive development works unprecedented in the history of Kerala. The Congress and LDF leadership had to grudgingly acknowledge his contribution to the state.
When BJP President Shri Rajnath Singh announced Shri Rajagopal'scandidature from Palakkad at a massive public rally, there was an all-around spontaneous response. BJP has been gaining tremendous strength in Palakkad for the past few years and Shri Rajagopal is Palakkad'sown son. While in the 1999 elections to the Lok Sabha BJP got 90,000 votes, in 2004 it increased to 1.50 lakh votes, winning 30,500 votes in the Palakkad assembly segment. The Palakkad Municipality is now being ruled by the BJP, the first in the history of the state and the BJP. Out of the total votes of 1.53 lakh, the polling comes to around 1.10 lakh votes. By garnering 40,000 odd votes Shri Rajagopal can easily win?except for 18,000 odd Muslims, among whom many may vote for Shri Rajagopal. The presence of Christians is negligible.
Apart from Palakkad another constituency where the BJP has high hopes is Manjeswaram, the northernmost constituency in Kerala bordering Karnataka and with a high percentage of Kannada population. Manjeswaram and adjoining Kasargod are two assembly segments in which BJP has been coming second, consistently in all elections from 1987. In 1991, the late K.G. Marar, the legendary RSS/Jana Sangh leader, lost by hardly 1,000 votes to the Muslim League. From 1991, the BJP has been losing these seats to the Muslim League, barely by a margin of less than 3,000 votes due to CPM'scross-voting to Muslim League to prevent BJP'sentry into Kerala assembly.
Manjeswaram is dominated by Kannada-speaking people and Muslims. The Hindu voters of CPM are angry with their leadership for hobnobbing with jehadis like Madhani, Jamat-e-Islami, etc. and for forcing them to vote Muslim League to defeat BJP. Hence, they have openly declared support for BJP candidate Shri Narayana Bhat who belongs to the Kannada community. Moreover, a BJP government in neighbouring Karnataka gives more enthusiasm to the Kannada people to vote BJP in Kerala. The Muslim League candidate and former Minister Cherkulam Abdulla has become unpopular due to his physical assault of a government doctor and the people and government staff have become against him. Moreover, he has been winning in this seat since 1991 due to false voting by people from neighbouring Mangalore in Karnataka. Now with the BJP government in Karnataka planning sealing border with Kerala on poll day and the Election Commission introducing photo-affixed electoral rolls (first time in India), the false voting will come to a stop.
When the ballots are opened on May 11, Kerala may give a surprise to the whole world by electing at least two stalwarts of the BJP to the Kerala assembly.