Thiruvananthapuram, April 6 (IANS) There was nothing much to cheer about for the Kerala unit of the BJP on its foundation day on Monday.
And it can be best described, if one traces its growth trajectory, as one step forward and two backwards.
In figures, if one looks at the vote share of the BJP in the past elections, it shows a sorry state of affairs. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls the BJP had a vote share of 10.33 per cent, which touched 15.10 per cent at the 2016 Assembly polls and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls it was 15.6 per cent .
The only elected people’s representative for the BJP in the 140 member Kerala Assembly is 90-year-old O.Rajagopal, who won the 2016 Assembly polls.
And it wouldn’t be any surprise if people attribute his victory just to his personal image and the good work he did as a Union Minister in the A.B.Vajpayee cabinet.
One of the main reasons attributed why the Kerala unit of the BJP continues to languish, is it’s been a divided house as time and again the egos of its state leaders surface.
The most recent expression of dissent came when the national leadership named its new state president – K.Surendran in February.
Another reason is that the national leadership of the party still appears to have a lack of faith in the faction ridden party unit here.
Many supporters of the party, besides its own ‘top leaders’, were taken aback when they saw that posts were given to those who never had any experience either directly or indirectly with the grassroots workers.
Though the state BJP leadership was on a high when the BJP-led NDA under Narendra Modi recorded a huge win in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the state leaders were stunned when the first beneficiary was superstar Suresh Gopi when he was nominated to the Upper House .
Gopi reportedly had been trying to cosy up to the Congress party for long but failing in that took the first opportunity to get close to Modi and was rewarded.
The state leadership got another shock when the national leadership nominated former bureaucrat turned CPI-M legislator K.J. Alphonse first as a Union Minister and then got him into the Upper House from Rajasthan.
And it was not until 2018, when a home grown BJP leader became part of the power structure when V.Muraleedharan, a two time State BJP president, was first sent to the Upper House and then made a Union minister in the second NDA government.
Soon after Muraleedharan, the national leadership gave a gubernatorial post for the first time to a Kerala BJP leader, when popular RSS face Kummanam Rajasekheran was asked to step down from the post of the State party president and was packed off to the Raj Bhavan in Mizoram.
He quit the post to contest the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but lost to Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor, who won by a margin very close to a lakh of votes.
And after Modi won a stellar victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sitting state BJP president P.S.Sreedharan Pillai was given the post of Rajasekheran.
Another reason is that unlike in many other states, where the BJP attracted top politicians from many national parties, mostly from the Congress, in Kerala all it could manage were a few local Congress leaders with practically no following.
Likewise if one looks at the allies of the NDA in Kerala, the list is unimpressive and the only party worth a mention is the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) led by Thushar Vellapally, the son of the ‘powerful’ Vellapally Natesan, general secretary of the SNDP Yogam, a social organisation in Kerala.
But here too, relations between the BJP and the BDJS blow hot and cold and today the situation is such that for all practical purpose, the BDJS has split leaving the BJP with nothing to cheer about.
The party continues to be divided between Muraleedharan, former State president P.K.Krishnadas and leaders like Rajagopal, Rajasekheran and Pillai who have their own clique.
For new state party president Surendran, the challenge is to get the BJP into the fast track of growth and he has a chance to do it, as the civic polls are scheduled to be held in October.