Ironically, it is yet to win a single seat, or be part of a ruling coalition
Thiruvananthapuram: In the din and bustle of the campaigning for the Assembly polls in Kerala, if there is one national party that is invisible, it is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (UDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) completely dominate the political space in Kerala. With its persistence, the BJP managed to emerge as a decisive factor in the closely-fought elections.
However, it is now crumbling under the weight of factionalism, which has gained alarming proportions though the party is yet to win a single Assembly seat in the state, or be part of a ruling coalition.
The factionalism was exposed in the 2005 by-election to the Thiruvananthapuram parliamentary seat in which former state president C K Padmanabhan lost his deposit.
The humiliating performance came close on the heels of the 2004 general election in which former Union minister O Rajagopal garnered 2.26 lakh votes giving a scare to both the LDF and UDF. The difference between him and UDF candidate Sivakumar was only 5,000 votes and that of the winner, P K Vasudevan Nair, 60,000 votes.
In 2005, Padmanabhan could garner just 36,000 votes.
Under the circumstances, opening its account in the Assembly seems a distant dream though it had emerged second in Manjeswaram and Kasargod in all the polls since 1991.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG
Perhaps, the rot had set in as early as 1991 itself.
K G Marar, who was at the helm of affairs then, struck a deal with Congress leader K Karunakaran — The BJP would help the Congress across the state if it would help the BJP win two seats — Manjeswaram and Thiruvananthapuram East.
While the BJP kept its word, the Congress threw the deal to the wind. Marar, who contested from Manjeswaram, lost by a slender margin of 1,000 votes. In the 1996 polls, the BJP lost the seat by a margin of 2,300 votes.
But Marar’s scheme led to both UDF and LDF striking deals with individual BJP leaders in all subsequent polls, including to local bodies. In due course, the BJP was branded as a character-less party.
Its share of votes has been coming down with each election. In the 2001 Assembly polls, it secured 5.08 per cent of the vote, which was the difference between the UDF (49.05 per cent) and the LDF (43.7 per cent). But it would not come as a surprise if it fails to mobilise even 4 per cent in this election.