Even as one survey after another predict a win for the incumbent Left Front alliance in Kerala, an opinion poll conducted by the Media One news channel has thrown up some interesting figures on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s support levels among various religious communities.
Pinarayi Vijayan, an atheist and a communist, is four times as popular among Hindu voters than Ramesh Chennithala, the CM candidate from the Congress Party who has spent the last four years projecting himself as a champion of Hindu causes like Sabarimala.
Vijayan is also more than three times as popular among Hindu respondents as his nearest rival, former CM Oommen Chandy.
At the same time, Vijayan was not the most popular CM candidate among the state’s two minority communities — Christians and Muslims. This title belonged to former CM and Congress leader Oommen Chandy, a christian himself.
In terms of sheer numbers, Pinarayi Vijayan enjoyed backing of 46% of Hindu respondents, while Ramesh Chennithala enjoyed the support of just 10%.
In fact, Oommen Chandy ranked higher among Hindus, with 15% of the respondents picking him as their next CM.
This is surprising, given that the Congress’ central leadership forced Oommen Chandy to take a back seat and brought forward Chennithala to ‘correct’ the party’s image as being too “pro-minority” in the state.
Paradoxically, Ramesh Chennithala seems to have had more support among Christian and Muslim voters compared to Hindu voters.
While only 10% of Hindu respondents picked him as their next CM, his support level was at 11% among Christian and Muslim respondents.
Going by the numbers, the Congress continues to suffer a trust deficit among Hindu voters, as the two Congress leaders put together — at 25% — could not come anywhere close to Pinarayi Vijayan’s support level of 46%.
Part of the reason may lie in the current chief minister’s personality. Even the avowedly pro-Hindu party, BJP, too failed to win much support among Hindu respondents, according to the survey.
BJP’s CM candidate, former railway official E Sreedharan, has the support of just 7% of Hindus, while state BJP President K Surendran was the preferred leader for 2%. In other words, only 9% of Hindus seemed to want a chief minister from the BJP.
However, overall support for the BJP may be higher as around 20% of the respondents chose ‘none of the above’, and this may include those who have some other BJP leader in mind.
Oommen Chandy emerged as the most preferred Chief Ministerial candidate in the Christian and Muslim communities, edging out Pinarayi Vijayan.
Chandy had the support of 36% of Christian voters and 34% of Muslim voters. Pinarayi Vijayan’s support level was the same in both communities — 32%.
As mentioned earlier, Chennithala was at No.3 in both communities with 11% of the votes. The combined support for the two BJP leaders was at 1% among Muslims and 5% among Christians.
The total electorate is divided into Hindu (51%), Muslim (29%) and Christian (19%).
The survey also indicated that the Pinarayi Vijayan government has been able to make a good impression on the electorate in a state where people generally vote purely based on party affiliation.
This time, said the survey, only 27% of the people said their voting preference has been primarily influenced by their party affiliation, and a whopping 39% said their primary concern has been the performance of the government. Another 19% said their decision was primarily based on the personality and character of the local candidate.
The survey predicted the Left Front to win 73-78 seats out of the total 140, followed by 60-65 for the Congress-led UDF and 0-2 for the BJP.