The Congress-led UDF has won 18 out of 20 seats in Kerala, while one seat each went to the BJP and the CPI(M). Here are the leading takeaways from the Kerala result:

Kerala has always shown a voting pattern in the Lok Sabha elections that is different from the Assembly polls. Barring a few exceptions, the state has always preferred the Congress in the Lok Sabha over the Left. The 2024 Lok Sabha elections were fought at a time when the Left had lost its ground elsewhere in the country, exposing the CPI(M)’s inability to stem the BJP juggernaut, which helped the Congress project itself as an alternative at the national level. .

Anti-incumbency against state govt, not MPs

Along with a vote of protest against the 10-year-old Modi government at the Centre, a major factor that worked in the UDF’s favor was the anti-incumbency being faced by the eight-year-old Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government in Kerala. . On ground, even though there was strong resentment against the CPI(M), the party had avoided any debate over a mandate for its regime. At the same time, the UDF, particularly the Congress, fielded all sitting MPs, many of them representing their seats for 2-3 terms. The result shows that they remained insulated from individual anti-incumbency.

The CPI(M) wooed Muslims, but they stood behind UDF

The CPI(M) had projected the Left as the only alliance that could steadfastly fight the BJP at the national level. Right from the outset, the party made the CAA as its main poll plank, and alleged that the Congress was silent on it. However, the Congress and its ally, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), went on to win by big margins in all the seats in north Kerala where Muslims are a considerable force. Elsewhere in Kerala, the CPI(M)’s single-point agenda may have distanced Hindu and Christian votes from the Left.

Christian votes with the Congress

Festive offer

The huge victory of the Congress in central Kerala, held after the exit of several leading Christian faces from the party — including the death of former CM Oommen Chandy — shows that the community’s loyalty towards the Congress remains intact. In central Kerala constituencies of Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, both the CPI(M) and Congress fielded Christian candidates, but the UDF won all the seats, voiding the BJP’s Christian outreach programs and anti-Muslim campaign. The violence in Manipur, with Christian tribals among the tribals, also dampened the Christian enthusiasm for the party.

Trouble within the LDF

The BJP won Thrissur and put up a strong fight in Thiruvananthapuram, both seats contested by the CPI, which is the CPI(M)’s junior ally in the LDF. In both seats, it is believed, the LDF candidates did not get all the Left votes. The victory of Suresh Gopi in Thrissur is likely to reopen the controversy over the allegation that CPI(M) leader EP Jayarajan had held discussions with the Kerala BJP in-charge Prakash Javadekar on helping Gopi’s victory, in exchange for the Center settling probes by its agencies against CPI(M) leaders, as well as the SNC Lavalin case that is pending in the Supreme Court.

Will bolster bond between Congress and IUML

In the run-up to the elections, the CPI(M) had sent feelers to the IUML, the Congress’s main ally in Kerala. Over the last few years, the CPI(M) had managed to get closer to an influential clerical body, SAMASTHA, which is closely associated with the IUML. As a result, in Ponnani, the CPI(M) fielded its candidate with the backing of a section of SAMASTHA clerics. With the Congress recording a resounding victory in Kerala, the IUML can check the pro-Left elements within SAMASTHA. Besides, the impression that the BJP won Thrissur with tacit Left backing will also dent the CPI(M)’s image among Muslims; Another factor that would help the Congress cement its ties with the IUML.

BJP opens account in Kerala

The most important takeaway of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Kerala is the victory of BJP candidate Gopi from Thrissur. The BJP poll campaign focused on “Modi’s guarantee” and development. This much-needed victory will boost the BJP’s confidence in Kerala, and go a long way in the party’s future electoral plans. The party has also increased its vote share in many other constituencies, like Thiruvananthapuram, Attingal and Alappuzha. But it failed to make a bigger gain from the public resentment against the LDF government, which went in favor of the UDF. In 2019 too, while the BJP led protests against the LDF government facilitating entry of young women into Sabarimala temple, the electoral gains had gone to the Congress.

Revolt within Congress over Thrissur loss

The Congress, which had won Thrissur in 2019, lost it to the BJP this year. The party had deputed its senior leader and sitting Vadakara MP K Muraleedharan to retain the Thrissur seat. Muraleedharan has already spoken out against the party leadership, saying during the campaign that the party had neglected the constituency, and that he had been made a sacrificial lamb.