The BJP, which broke ground in Kerala by opening its Lok Sabha account in the state with Suresh Gopi’s victory from Thrissur, has more reason to cheer as it has managed to increase its vote share in almost all Lok Sabha constituencies of the state.

An Assembly segment-wise analysis shows that the BJP was first-placed in 11, including six falling under the Thrissur seat, and runner-up in six. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had led only in one Assembly segment – ​​Nemon – the seat it had won in 2016; and had finished second in seven.

Preliminary Election Commission (EC) data shows that the BJP-led NDA’s vote share grew to 19.39% in the state, up from 15.64% five years ago. The BJP alone polled 16.83% of the votes, as against 13.81% in 2019. In six LS seats, the BJP got a vote share of above 20% this time.

Interestingly, Thrissur, where Gopi secured the historic winhad not been on the BJP’s radar until the actor-turned-politician entered the scene as the party had put its focus on Thiruvananthapuram, which is seen to have had a pro-Sangh Parivar vote bank since the 1980s.

Although he did not have a launchpad, Gopi rode on his stardom. In 2019, he had helped the BJP increase its vote share from 11.15% in 2014 to 28.2% in 2019, even as he finished third. In 2021, he contested the Thrissur Assembly seat and increased the BJP vote share to 31.3%, from 19.46% in 2016.

Festive offer

Even after his losses, Gopi remained involved in local issues and other charitable activities in the constituency. His pet dialogueThrissur njan edukkuva, enikku venom Thrissur (I am taking Thrissur, I want Thrissur)” was a hit with the masses.

His donation of a golden crown to the Catholic Cathedral Church in Thrissur to mark his daughter’s wedding also struck a chord with the electorate, of which Christians make up around 21%. Even as the BJP failed to win the support of the community in other parts of the state, voting patterns in Thrissur show that a chunk of Christian votes went in Gopi’s favor, thus enabling his victory by an over 74,000 vote margin while gaining a lead in six of the seven Assembly segments falling under the Lok Sabha seat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s endorsement of Gopi’s candidature, with repeated visits to the constituency in the last five months, also sent out a message that the local leadership that the party was serious about victory. During campaigning, Gopi played the “Modi guarantee” card to the hilt and tried to woo voters by telling them he would be one of the ministers in the Modi Cabinet.

On the other hand, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who lost to the Congress’s Shashi Tharoor by just over 16,000 votes, seems to have paid the price of the BJP failing to make inroads beyond the urban segments of the Lok Sabha constituency.

In the three urban Assembly segments – Nemom, Vattiyurkkavu and Kazhakkoottam – mainly comprising upper caste Hindus, Chandrasekhar maintained a clear lead, but this diminished as Tharoor managed to consolidate support in the rural and coastal belts. The Christians in the coastal belt have strained relations with the BJP, especially after last year’s fishermen’s protest against the Adani Group’s Vizhinjam seaport project.

Elsewhere, in Alappuzha, BJP candidate Sobha Surendran also drove a rise in the party’s vote share from around 17% in 2019 to 28% despite coming in third behind KC Venugopal of the Congress and sitting MP AM Ariff of the CPI(M). In Harippad and Kayamkulam Assembly seats under Alappuzha, Sobha pocketed more votes than Ariff.

The BJP also managed to increase its vote share in Attingal and Palakkad. In Attingal, where the BJP fielded former Union Minister V Muraleedharan, the party managed to improve its vote share from 24.8% in 2019 to 31.6%, while in Alathur, BJP candidate TN Sarasu managed to increase the party’s vote share from 21.4% to 24.3. %.

Bucking the trend was Pathanamthitta, where the BJP’s vote share dropped from 29% to 25.4%. The party, which fielded its national secretary Anil Antony in the constituency with a 40% Christian population, seems to have failed to win over the community here. This would be good news for the Congress, given that Antony is the son of its veteran leader AK Antony, and his departure to the BJP had been a shock for the party.