With nearly 95% of the eight lakh votes counted, the BJP has seen its vote share decline from about 7.5% in 2014 to 7.1%. The party was expecting a share of around 10-11%.
What should be jarring for the party is the fact that both the other fronts have seen an increase in their vote shares.
While the Indian Union Muslim League of the Congress-led front saw an increase from around 51% to 55%, the Left Democratic Front saw its vote share increase from 28.5% to 37% compared to 2014.
The numbers indicate that the BJP has not ‘cracked’ the Kerala electoral market yet.
The Lok Sabha seat became vacant after the death of E Ahamed.
The results of the Malappuram by-election could lead to some introspection in the state unit of the BJP.
The party has aggressive designs for Kerala, where it has never won a Parliamentary seat, for the 2019 general election.
The local candidate for the party, N Sreeprakash, even went to the extent of wooing the Muslim voters by promising that good quality beef will be made available in the constituency if he’s elected. Beef is also consumed by the majority of Hindus in Kerala.
However, the election saw the consolidation of Muslim votes towards the Indian Union Muslim League and away from splinter Muslim parties such as PDP, SDPI and so on.
Political observers believe that this is a reaction to the rising Hindutva-based religious activism in North India. Moreover, the ‘sympathy wave’ over the death of E Ahamed may also have contributed to the slight increase in the UDF’s vote share.
Kunjalikkutty is also considered a far more popular leader compared to E Ahamed, who barely visited the constituency due to health reasons during the last general election.