Muslim League candidate PK Kunjalikkutty is on track to better his party’s performance in the assembly elections of last year, scoring a majority of around 1.8 lakh out of the total votes of around 8 lakhs.
Kunjalikkutty won 55.06% of the votes, increasing the UDF’s vote share from 51.29% three years ago, and largely retaining the votes polled by the front ten months ago in elections to the state assembly.
The Left democratic front won 36.8%, up from 28.5% three years ago.
The BJP won 7.02%, down from 7.58% three years ago.
The primary reason for the increase in the vote share of the Congress and the Left fronts is the absence of three Muslim-focused parties — the Social Democratic Party of India, People’s Democratic Party and the Welfare Party of India.
These parties had polled about 11% of the votes last time, which has got distributed between the two main fronts this time. These parties did not fight the election this time, nor did they join any of the fronts.
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DISAPPOINTMENT FOR LDF
Despite a 8.3 percentage point jump in its vote share, the final numbers are a disappointment for the LDF as they indicate a slight decline in its popularity compared to 10 months ago.
In the assembly elections of 2016, the UDF had a majority of only 1.18 lakh votes in the seven assembly constituencies compared to about 1.8 lakh this time.
However, the numbers are in line with the election results of 2014. At that time, UDF polled 4.37 lakh votes (51%), while LDF polled 2.43 lakh (28.5%) and BJP got 64,705 votes (7.6%).
The ruling Left Front faced some last minute hurdles and set-backs such as unfavorable media coverage following a police crackdown on a mother demanding justice for the death of her son.
Moreover, Kunjalikkutty is the strongest leader of the Muslim League, which aided the performance.
Similarly, signals coming from North India suggesting a revival in the Hindu right-wing activity also led to a consolidation of Muslim votes in the area.
Several smaller, more radical Muslim parties tacitly aided the Muslim League this time, said MB Faisal, the LDF candidate.
“The IUML had covert and overt alliances with extremist parties including the SDPI this time,” Faisal said. “They encouraged extremist tendencies for the sake of getting votes. This sends the country in the wrong direction,” he added.
UDF led in all seven assembly zones comprising the parliamentary constituency. The performance of the UDF in Mankada and Perinthalmanna assembly constituencies is better than that of last year. The biggest majorities were seen in Kunjalikkutty’s home constituency of Vengara and Malappuram.
Kunjalikkutty was seen as the easy favorite for the constituency as it is one of the Muslim League’s strongest ‘forts’ in Kerala. Hindu votes constitute only 35% of the total votes in the area.
Muslim League is the second biggest constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front and contributes about two-thirds as many MLAs to the front as the leader Indian National Congress.
BJP PERFORMANCE EYED
The numbers will also be analysed to examine whether the performance of Narendra Modi at the center has had any impact on the fortunes of the party in Kerala.
Though Malappuram is not a very good place to analyse BJP’s performance due to the domination of the constituency by Muslim voters, a trend may be drawn based on the relative performance of the saffron party compared to the previous years.
In 2016, NDA won around 73,400 votes in the seven constituencies, close to 10% of the total votes in the area.
With 95% of the votes counted, BJP’s voteshare is only 7.1%, below the 7.5% seen in the 2014 elections.