the Kerala voting pattern

One question I keep facing from some friends is why doesn't BJP do big in Kerala. With the Vengara by-election results, the same questions have been raised - fact is, in such a hugely Muslim dominated constituency, BJP never stood a chance - though decline in its votes warrants introspection

There are many reasons why BJP doesn't fully click in Kerala - let me give the demographic one now

The above is my "theory" or "hypothesis" as applicable for 2014/16 - because it is not based on any major statistical analysis or data - just out of my understanding of Kerala. Red is the left and allies (LDF) , green is Congress and allies(UDF)  and saffron BJP and its allies (NDA). The Hindu, Christian and Muslim numbers may not exactly match the numbers given at but that one are 2011 numbers and I don't fully trust them. So I will go with my 52-28-20 numbers.

Now, what I have shown is an almost "solid base" - the minimum that these parties will get. Almost 18% are "swing and others". By swing I mean people who are not solid - it doesn't necessarily mean that the whole swing will be a state-wide phenomenon. Lot of local factors and even "personal" factors play in. In 2016 assembly elections LDF got ~6% of that "swing" (so it got ~43%), UDF got ~4% (so it got ~39%), NDA got about 5% (so it got ~15%) and the 3% went to others (total 3%)

Indeed, there are pockets like Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad , Kasargod where BJP many times comes a close second.. But then that is far from making a solid impact in Kerala. Unless something majorly changes, in the 2021 assembly elections too, BJP may not be part of "deciding who rules"

So then, what is its future ? Well, let us purely look at the Hindu votes - I have split it as 50% left, 20% UDF, 18% NDA and 16% swing. BJP's future will depend on how much they can "tap into"

1) The Hindu votes - and naturally, the biggest "sufferers" will be the left, which is why wherever BJP starts getting traction, the left starts violence. And from what I know, the pro-BJP votes from Hindus cuts across caste lines ( The RSS worker brutally murdered by left's goondas recently was from the SC Pulaya community as per indeed, no "self-proclaimed champions of Dalits" seemed to even bother or pretended that they did not know)

In my opinion, there is some reasons due to which the flow of cadres between left and BJP is more 'natural' - first both are cadre based parties, not-so-much family-based parties, both have core "sociological ideology" -- in fact, many of the Hindu-communists (not an oxymoron when it comes to Kerala) are religious too.. I keep saying, if you take a poll among the Sabarimala going Hindus, left party may win hands down ! The big differences between the left and BJP are in their views of Nationalism and minority appeasement -- for the latter, the left in Kerala is worse than Congress (whatever Hindu votes the left loses to BJP, it tries to make up by getting Muslim votes)

How about swinging Hindu-Congress votes to BJP.. well it depends.. Most of the Hindu-Congress voters are still there just because a) their forefathers were Congress b) they are anti-communists and just don't feel confident enough that BJP can beat the left c) no "ideology", so de facto Congress

So in my opinion, from that "solid" (as I mentioned thats the 2014/16 situation) 25 + 10, at best, may be by 2026, BJP may be able to get 10 more - that will still take it to their best of 15 + 10 = 25 (and that assuming it doesn't lose much from the 15% it got in 2016 ). Chances of that 25% itself appears bleak (unless a major game changing local leader or issue arises).. and even if it happens, the LDF + UDF with a 70-75% can prevent the BJP from getting significant seats (already happening locally)

2) non-Hindu votes:  Getting and non-trivial percentage of Muslim votes is out of question in the near future. This is one reason BJP tries to reach out to the predominantly Christian Kerala Congress. In my opinion that may not be a good idea in the long term. Kerala Congress - with umpteen factions - in general has lot of corruption issues and in some sense follows the basic ideology of Congress - that politics is to enhance ones own family and to eat away public money. What BJP may need to do is to slowly attract the section of the Christians who sees "logic", who are very Nationalistic, and many of whom respect and even practice some aspects of Hinduism.

Many christian families teach their children classical dance and music - a section of the Hindutva folks view this as inculturation as a means for more conversions.. May be some do it for this sake, but a good amount of Christians do it because they respect the Hindu traditions and culture.

Well, easy said than done, some might say.. and with all this too, at best you can get a "5" out of 20. And by the time you get that 25+5 = 30% , the Hindu population may have already come below 50% and the whole arithmetic may change. So yes, catch-22 it is, but there is no option with the BJP except to patiently keep trying -- unless a local messiah or issue is string enough for a "revolution"