Thiruvananthapuram, May 24 : Even as the congress-led UDF almost registered a clean sweep in Kerala by winning 19 of the 20 seats up for grabs in the state, the party has been left shell-shocked by a repeat of a BJP landslide win at the national level in the lok sabha polls.
Despite exit polls predicting a BJP landslide, the congress had hoped against hope that it would cross the three-digit mark and secure at least 120 seats. But it was not to be as the country was swept up by another Modi wave with the saffron party improving on its 2014 tally by notching up 302 seats.
The massive mandate for BJP has taken most political pundits by surprise as the party had failed to honour most of its polls promises.
‘Veekshanam’, the mouthpiece of the Kerala unit of the congress party believes that the BJP’s unexpected and inexplicable landslide triumph at the hustings could be attributed to the faux nationalism played up by prime minister Narendra Modi on the back of the Balakot air strikes.
An editorial article in the newspaper charges that the BJP’s electoral triump is a fake victory manufactured by playing up faux nationalism and sidestepping debates on development and government’s achievements or lack thereof.
Massive infusion of money into the election and largescale poll malpractices by the BJP coupled with lack of unity in the opposition ranks also contributed to the saffron surge, the article says.
Even as the congress mouthpiece says that neither BJP’s massive win nor the CPI(M)’s decimation in the elections are good news for votaries of democracy and secularism, it takes a swipe at the CPI(M) over its tall claims of being the only party capable of fighting the BJP.
The CPI(M)-led LDF was reduced to just one seat in Kerala and drew a blank in its traditional bastions, West Bengal and Tripura. West Bengal also witnessed a massive erosion in the CPI(M) vote share in favor of the BJP, helping the saffron party win 18 seats from the state. This has left the CPI(M) red-faced as they had charged the congress with helping the BJP win the recent assembly polls in Tripura by trading its traditional votes.
Veekshanam’s charge of BJP playing up nationalism is borne out by analysis done by various news outlets. According to reports, ‘chowkidar’ was the word most used by Modi in his election rallies in 2019. Unlike in 2014, ‘Pakistan’ also figured frequently in his speeches, mostly in reference to the Pulwama attacks and the Balakot air strikes carried out by the Indian air force in response.
Modi had used the Balakot airstrikes to play up his nationalistic credentials and burnish his strongman image, contrasting the counter-strike with the alleged pusillanimity shown by the previous congress-led regime in the face of Pakistani aggression.
BJP has also been the major benefactor of donations through electoral bonds, leaving the party flush with funds ahead of the elections. The BJP’s audit report submitted to the election commission in 2018 had showed that the party received 95 per cent of the electoral bonds issued in the maiden tranche of the electoral-bond scheme in March 2018.