Political shift in Kerala: UDF dominates, BJP enters, LDF struggles

Suresh Gopi's win in Thrissur also hints at BJP's growing influence and the possibility of more competitive future elections in Kerala.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Jun 04, 2024 | 9:21 PM Updated Jun 05, 2024 | 10:19 AM


In a state where it has traditionally struggled to gain a foothold, BJP achieved a breakthrough for the first time in Kerala’s parliamentary election history.

Marking a significant milestone, BJP had won the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat through Suresh Gopi.

The victory, which has become one of the most surprising developments in this election, could signal a shift in the political dynamics of Kerala.

This also hints at BJP’s growing influence and the possibility of more competitive elections in the future.

At the same time, the Left faced a significant setback as it managed to win only one seat, similar to that of the 2019 General Elections. However, it lost its sitting seat Alappuzha, which it had won in the previous polls. The front wrest back Alathur from UDF through K Radhakrishnan.

In the case of the UDF, it once again asserted its dominance by winning 18 out of 20 seats.

However, the moment of triumph for the UDF was tinged with sadness as two sitting MPs were defeated.

Related: Lok Sabha polls results for South: Who won with highest and lowest victory margins?

Strategic move, backfiring decision

In the case of the UDF, it implemented a couple of “surprising” decisions while giving final touches to its candidate list.

One such was its main constituent Congress’ decision to ask sitting MP TN  Prathapan to step aside from Thrissur and transfer Vadakara’s sitting MP K Muraleedharan to Thrissur.

It was seen as a calculated move to consolidate support. Also, this shift was influenced by internal party dynamics, particularly following Muraleedharan’s sister Padmaja’s switch to BJP.

Additionally, Congress brought in Palakkad MLA Shafi Parambil to contest from Vadakara, aiming to counter the influence of prominent LDF candidate K K Shailaja.

This move was considered a bold and tactical decision to strengthen the UDF’s position against a strong opponent.

In the case of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), it decided to swap the seats of its two sitting MPs.

ET Muhammad Basheer, who represented Ponnani in 2019, was asked to contest from Malappuram and MP Abdussamad Samadani, who represented Malappuram, was asked to contest from Ponnai.

The decision didn’t backfire as both candidates won with a thumping majority.

Despite the overall triumph, not all of the UDF’s decisions yielded the desired results.

The strategy to move Muraleedharan from Vadakara to Thrissur backfired, as he ended up in third position in Thrissur. Moreover, the defeat of another sitting MP, Ramya Haridas of Alathur, added a sobering note to the UDF’s victory.

Also read: Live Lok Sabha polls 2024 results: Congress becomes party with highest number of seats in the South

Creating history

In the UDF camp, two MPs created history as they won for the fourth time in a row from a constituency: Shashi Tharoor of Thiruvananthapuram and Kodikunnil Suresh of Mavelikkara.

Though Tharoor suffered a roller-coaster ride in the initial rounds, as BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar registered a huge lead, he finally emerged victorious with a lead of 16,077 votes.

With this, Tharoor became the first to hold the record of representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency for the fourth time in a row.

Before him, another Congress leader — A Charles — had won three times in a row by winning the 1984, 1989, and 1991 Lok Sabha elections. However, when Charles contested for the fourth time, he tasted defeat at the hands of CPI’s KV Surendranath in 1996.

In the case of Kodikunnil, he is the first MP to win four times in a row after Mavelikkara was designated as a reserved constituency.

Earlier, PJ Kurian had won four times in a row from Mavelikkara, when it was a general constituency.

Among the other UDF candidates, Adoor Prakash won with the barest of margins from Attingal.

From the very beginning, the contest was between Prakash and the LDF’s V Joy. Finally, Prakash won with a lead of 685 votes. However, after LDF demanded, repolling of postal ballots is underway.

Also Read: On Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and the curious criminal cases they face

LDF in a shambles

For the LDF, the results were less favourable.

Mirroring its performance in the 2019 elections, the LDF managed to secure only one seat: Alathur. This single victory emphasised the continuing challenges the LDF faces in regaining its influence in Kerala.

Notably, the LDF could not retain the Alappuzha seat, which it had won in the previous election.

It signalled a shift in voter sentiment and highlighted a pressing need for introspection and strategy reassessment within the leftist alliance.

This loss also reflected the ongoing challenges faced by the LDF in appealing to the state’s electorate despite its historic presence and governance at the state level.

In the 2024 polls, the LDF fielded four MLAs (of whom one won) – DYFI state president (V Wasif) and three district secretaries (V Joy, MV Balakrishnan, and MV Jayarajan).

Related: How BJP-led NDA fared in the home constituencies of chief ministers in South states

BJP finally opens account

Perhaps the most striking development in this election was the historic breakthrough achieved by BJP.

Challenging the longstanding notion that right-wing politics had no fertile ground in the state, BJP secured a seat for the first time in Kerala’s Lok Sabha election history.

Suresh Gopi, the BJP candidate, registered a thumping victory from Thrissur, a result that sent ripples through the political landscape of Kerala.

In many constituencies, BJP increased its vote share, hinting at the saffron party’s growing influence in the state.

In short, as the dust settled, the results reinforced the UDF’s position as the dominant political force in Kerala, challenged the LDF to introspect and adapt, and opened a new chapter for the BJP in the state.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)