Thiruvananthapuram: People of Kerala have reinforced the image of their state as a refuge for political parties and leaders rejected by the rest of India. Accordingly, Congress, facing unprecedented rout in its traditional strongholds, has been accommodated honourably in Kerala, where the Congress-led United Democratic Front has virtually swept the poll.
The state extended the same courtesy to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has been rejected by his family fiefdom of Amethi, by electing him to Lok Sabha from Wayanad with a record margin of victory.
Out of the total of 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the UDF has won in 19, leaving a lone seat to the ruling CPI-M, another party facing extinction as a national entity. Incidentally, Kerala has been providing the last refuge to CPI-M, which has been rejected in all its traditional strongholds of Bengal and Tripura. The CPI-M has now been reduced to a single MP party, and that too hailing from Kerala.
So, it is only natural that the state should play host to the Congress party, which has been reduced ironically into a south Indian party. But even the south Indian presence is on account of some bonus seats that have accrued to the party by riding piggyback on DMK in Tamil Nadu.
If a certain amount of consistency is applied, Kerala is the only state where Congress can claim a home. As such Congress can henceforth be safely called a Kerala party, just like the CPI-M. Kerala’s sympathy with national outcasts is not a new phenomenon.
When Indira Gandhi’s Congress party was forced to bite the dust in the general elections following Emergency, Kerala voted for her. The state even had a coalition government in which Congress was the major partner.
In 1989, when the Rajiv Gandhi government was defeated in the wake of the Bofors scandal, Kerala elected majority Congress MPs, once again showing the contrarian tendency of the state’s electorate. But there was always an exception to this pattern when Congress was voted to power on an all India basis. The variance occurred mostly when other parties won the elections.
In 2014, when Modi came to power riding a countrywide wave, it left no impact on Kerala and BJP could not get even one MP elected from the state. All that the saffron party managed to achieve in the state was to send one MLA to the assembly, mostly on the strength of his track record and personal image.
And as the Modi party has swept the rest of the country steamrolling all opposition in the 2019 elections, the BJP could not even open its account, despite the fact that the Sabarimala issue had created the perfect political conditions for the saffron party to put up a good show.
It was widely expected that the BJP would open its account this time, with the exit polls even talking about the possibility of the party winning a minimum of one seat, going up to three. But when the results finally came, the party was nowhere in the picture, with the state continuing its tradition of voting at variance with the national trend.