BJP: Can the lotus bloom in the south?
by C I Issac on 26 Nov 2015 2 Comments

The simple answer is ‘Yes’. Time has proved it unequivocally. The age old convictions of the political analysts were that the climate and soil of Kerala is not favourable to the blossoming of the lotus (Bharatiya Janata Party). Now this traditional belief has been roundly overturned in the local body elections in the State.


Five years ago, in 2010, in the last local body elections, the presence of the BJP was simply not visible. At the time, its vote share was 6.2 percent of the total polled votes of 1,832,667. On the other hand, the Congress led UDF’s share was 46 percent and the Marxist-led LDF’s was 42.3 percent.  


In just five years, in 2015, the political scenario of Kerala has undergone a sea change. The UDF, LDF, and BJP vote share in this election is respectively 37.23% (-8.77%), 37.36% (-4.94%) and 13.28% (+7.08%). (Brackets indicate the vote difference between the two polls).


This means a rise of 115 percent in the BJP’s vote share. The BJP was not part of any political alliance in the last local body election, whereas the UDF and LDF are conglomerations of various political parties’. If we consider the vote share secured by each party in both the alliances, it is clear that the per capita party share is somewhat equal or stumpy compared to the BJP’s share.


It is pertinent that all these gains of the BJP occurred amidst a swirl of controversies and allegations orchestrated by pseudo-secularist intellectuals supported by mega coverage by the visual and print media in Kerala and the rest of the country. So the electoral gain made by the BJP is the consequence of Kerala society’s sparkling and rapidly expanding faculty of discrimination. 


In the months preceding the elections, both fronts opened multi-faceted attacks on the BJP with the help of pseudo-secularist intellectuals. Be it the contrived controversy over beef, return of awards by protégés of the old, ousted regime, or anger by certain academics at not being continued in undeserved postings when their tenure ended, all of which became a raging epidemic of calumny against the BJP – everything had its epicenter in Kerala.  


K. Sachidanandan, a Kerala Marxist cum eminent poet and chronic patient with Modi-phobia for over a dozen years, was the first to be infected with the ‘virus of abdication of Kendra Sahitya Academy post’ and ‘award return syndrome, which became famous as #AwardWapasi.


His disease spread all over India, but somehow only amongst the Marxist-Congress intellectual circles. As if on cue, the international anti-India conscience keepers came forward to provide full-blown publicity to these bleeding hearts. Kerala being a highly literate state, these dramas of pseudo-intellectuals got wide publicity. Fortunately, however, the faculty of discrimination in Kerala society is very high, which was neither expected nor provided for by the ‘maestros’ in the light of their previous experiences. Hence, they were taken aback when the people simply ignored pseudo-intellectual concerts.


It may be interesting to note the chemistry of the abdication of honorary academic posts and return of awards. The famous eco-feminist Malayalam novelist P. Valsala responded to the award return epidemic with blistering contempt: “Some people were selected for awards and some others had bought it. Those who had bought the awards are now returning”.


Jnanpith laureate MT Vasudevan Nair said he was not against any protests, but made it clear that he would not be returning the Academi honour bestowed on him in 1968. Eminent poet Sugathakumari also said there was no merit in returning the award to support the writers’ protest. Well-known writer UA Khader said, “The returning of recognition is akin to letting himself or herself down and said he does not believe in returning awards to appease any political sections.” (The Telegraph, Calcutta, 10 October 2015).


More pertinently, the lead character of the award returning drama, K. Sachidanandan, resigned from the Kendra Sahitya Academi just weeks before the end of his one-year term! It is more than likely that he was told he would not get another term. Even more fortuitously, just before he quit the Academi, he secured a fellowship from the Shimla Institute of Advanced Studies, an institution under the Human Resource Development Ministry; that is to say, he secured this prestigious patronage under the Narendra Modi government!


The pseudo-secularist intellectuals’ antics for cheap popularity and pleasing their party bosses did not produce the desired results in the recent local body elections of Kerala. In future also, the same tempo will continue.


The author is a retired Professor of History and currently member, Indian Council of Historical Research

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