The results also showed that the BJP suffered a decline in popularity in Kerala in the last 18 months or so.
The election, which comes a year-and-a-half after the last state-wide assembly elections in the state, confirmed what many had feared — instead of reducing the appeal of the Left Front, one-and-a-half years of Left rule has actually served to increase its popularity.
The numbers also indicated that the SDPI — a hardline Islam-oriented party — has been very successful in weaning away some of the supporters of the ‘mainstream’ Muslim party, the Indian Union Muslim League.
All votes counted, the vote share of Congress partner IUML has fallen from 60.13% last year to 53.24% this year, a decline of 12%.
Similarly, the CPI-M’s vote share has increased from 28.43 to 34.21%, an increase of 20% in the number of votes.
In other words, while the Muslim League lost 7 percentage points of support, the Left gained 5 percentage points.
The remaining votes went to SDPI – an up-and-coming party targeting the Muslim population of the state and espousing a more hardline approach in terms of projecting Islamic rules and traditions.
The SDPI has been more successful in being perceived as the party that is more closely aligned with the fundamentals of Islamic faith.
SDPI has recently successfully raised awareness among Muslims about various ‘injustices’ faced by them in India, and campaigned against a judge who abrogated the marriage of a Hindu girl who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man even as a case of ‘Love Jihad’ surrounding the episode was being heard in the Kerala High Court.
They raised their vote share from 2.54% last year to 7.06% this year, displacing the BJP from the third place.
The BJP’s vote share slipped from last year — indicating that its strategy around a hardline Hindutva, such as the issue of cow slaughter, has not helped it grow its support in the state.
Normally, the BJP sees an upswing in its fortunes in Kerala when it is in power at the Center, with its vote share moving from 7% — when out of power — to 12-14% when it’s in power at the center.
The BJP’s vote share fell to 4.68% from 5.88% last year.