The second opinion poll released by Kerala-based Asianet News showed gains for the Left and the BJP in Kerala at the expense of UDF, which continued to lead the tally. The new survey also predicted a defeat for Congress’ Shashi Tharoor at the hands of the BJP, a party that has never won a Lok Sabha seat in Kerala.
UDF’s projected vote share has come down to 41 % from 44% predicted last month, while that of the Left is now seen at 34%, versus 30% last month.
BJP’s vote share is seen marginally higher at 19% in the new survey, versus the projection of 18% last month. Five years ago, BJP had won 10.3% of the votes in the 2014 general election.
The new survey also changes seat projections.
It predicts that the United Democratic Front (UDF) might win up to 14 seats out of the 20 in Kerala, compared to a projection of 15-16 seats in the earlier opinion poll conducted last month.
The new poll also gives the Left Democratic Front (LDF) up to 6 seats, compared to 3-5 seats in last month’s survey. NDA’s tally has been projected at up to 3, versus the 0-1 projected last month.
THAROOR’S PAIN, BJP’S GAIN
The poll predicted a clear defeat for UDF candidate Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram at the hands of the NDA.
Thiruvananthapuram, one of Kerala’s most closely watched battles, was supposed to witness a triangular tussle between the UDF, LDF and the NDA.
According to the survey, incumbent Tharoor is likely to face defeat at the hands of BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan, former Governor of Mizoram, the poll said.
Thiruvananthapuram, which has the highest proportion of upper caste Hindu voters in Kerala, has traditionally seen a good turnout for the BJP, but has never managed to send a BJP representative to Delhi.
However, a controversy around the Supreme Court allowing the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple seem to have given the required push to the BJP to open its account in the state.
The opinion poll predicts a vote share of 40% for Kummanam, 34% for Tharoor and 25% for LDF’s C Divakaran.
Tharoor, who won by a margin of nearly 1 lakh votes in 2009 general elections, had to face a tough fight in 2014 polls from BJP’s O Rajagopal.
The victory margin of Tharoor had decreased from 99,998 votes to a mere 15,470 in 2014.
Polls predict that the recent Sabarimala protests over the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women into the Ayyappa Shrine might be a crucial determinant this time in Kerala.
Tharoor, who was initially in support of the apex court’s judgment, later changed his stance and maintained that the devotee sentiment must be taken into consideration by the court.
Political pundits feel that despite Tharoor’s change in stance, there is a possibility that Tharoor’s traditional Nair votes might go to Kummanam.
Another constituency where the Sabarimala issue have garnered wider interest is Pathanamthitta.
The latest opinion poll predicts that the battle between the UDF and the NDA might head to a photo-finish, with LDF clearly losing out to a surge in BJP votes in this traditional Congress stronghold.
The poll predicts that UDF’s two-time sitting MP Anto Antony would get 36% of vote share, while the ‘poster-boy’ of Sabarimala protest, K Surendran, is likely to get 35%.
LDF’s Veena George is likely to come a distant third with 20% vote share.
RAHUL GANDHI AND WAYANAD
The picturesque district of Wayanad, which garnered widespread national attention in the context of Congress President Rahul Gandhi contesting from the constituency, is another interesting poll battle to watch out for.
Asianet News-AZ research partners opinion poll have predicted that the Congress scion would get 45% of the vote share this time, followed by LDF’s PP Suneer with 39% and BJP’s Thushar Vellappally with 16%.
However, political analysts are of the opinion that if Rahul fails to win by a clear majority, it is likely to be a huge setback for Congress who is looking to turn tables this time.
KEY BATTLES TO WATCH OUT FOR
Another key battle to watch out for is Thrissur which has gained attention since the entry of Malayalam superstar Suresh Gopi.
The latest poll predicts that in a close fight between UDF and LDF, with the UDF likely to retain the seat.
UDF’s TN Pratapan is likely to get 36% vote share in Thrissur, followed by Rajaji Mathew with 32% and Suresh Gopi with 26%.
The poll battle is likely to intensify in the constituencies of Idukki, Attingal, Palakkad and Kannur.