What are the political implications of BJP candidates’ rejection in the Kerala Assembly polls?

Three of their candidates were rejected during the scrutiny of the nomination, citing technical issues in Thalasseri, Devikulam, and Guruvayur — where BJP could have given LDF a tough competition
What are the political implications of BJP candidates’ rejection in the Kerala Assembly polls?

Ahead of the Kerala Assembly elections, the National Democratic Alliance and BJP face a difficult challenge. Three of their candidates were rejected during the scrutiny of the nomination citing technical issues in Thalasseri, Devikulam, and Guruvayur. Interestingly, BJP enjoys a good number of voters from these three locations, where the party could have given the incumbent left a tough competition. With their dummy candidates rejected as well, it seems that NDA doesn’t have a candidate in these three places.

In Thalasseri, N Haridas’ petition was rejected on the basis that he didn’t submit Form A with BJP national president JP Nadda’s signature. Haridas, who is the Kannur president of the party, has reportedly approached the Supreme Court to deal with the matter, alleging that the selector did not allow him to correct the issue. He said that the rejection of the petition on technical grounds is a slaughter of democracy. According to reports, Haridas had asked the selector some time to submit a new Form A, but the official unilaterally rejected the petition without accepting the plea. The party saw an increase of 15,000 votes in five years, as they recorded 22,125 votes in the last assembly elections. However, with the rejection of the dummy candidate as well, the party has lost hopes for the constituency.

In Devikulam, AIADMK — BJP’s alliance partner — fielded RM Dhanalakshmi in the hopes of combining their efforts for a good chance at victory. In 2016, Dhanalakshmi beat BJP’s N Chandran — they weren’t alliance partners then — to get the third spot. BJP won 9,592 votes and Dhanalakshmi got 11,613. They were hoping to combine their chances. Even more impressive was the AIADMK member’s performance in 2016 over 2011. From a meagre 0.60% vote share in 2011, she got around 9.9% vote share in 2016. With the combined efforts of the NDA, the two parties were planning on capitalising on the momentum. However, with no dummy candidate in place, the NDA is at a standstill. Apart from Dhanalakshmi, four other candidates were rejected as well.

In Guruvayur, BJP’s Adv Nivedita’s petition was rejected since she had “submitted an affidavit without state president K Surendran’s signature”. With no dummy candidate in place, Guruvayur is repeating the situations in Thalasseri and Devikulam. Nivedita had earlier contested in the same seat in 2016, taking BJP’s 7.25% vote share to 17.26% with a total vote of 25,490. She claimed that she would take legal action against the authorities who rejected her application.

In all three constituencies, the incumbent is from the LDF. KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran claimed that it is evident to the CPM-BJP nexus in Kerala. “The Sangh Parivar and CPM are holding friendly tie-ups in various locations in the assembly elections. Moreover, the BJP is buying votes from across the state,” he said while speaking to media persons. “The BJP has fielded very weak candidates in many constituencies where CPM leaders are contesting. The left party took a similar stance as well. The CPM is playing dangerous politics and is looking for a shortcut with communal forces to retain power,” he added.

On the other hand, Kannur CPM secretary MV Jayarajan claimed that it was evidence for the Congress-BJP tie-up. “While the BJP leadership had provided proper forms to all other candidates in Kannur, it is suspicious that they failed to provide one to the district president. They can follow it legally, but they can’t make us believe that all of it was an innocent mistake,” he said, adding that the situation read with the Congress scenario in Dharmadom is evidence of their nexus. “The Congress had claimed that they would field a strong candidate against Pinarayi Vijayan in Dharmadom. While news about Sudhakaran contesting emerged, he denied the ordeal and the party fielded an irrelevant candidate,” Jayarajan added.

Meanwhile, BJP national vice-president AP Abdullakutty said he took the inaccuracy in the paper very seriously and BJP national secretary Y Satyakumar responded that human error might have occurred. He added that he did not know further details and the party would look into it. BJP national spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal said they would respond after inquiring into the matter. Meanwhile, the BJP state president K Surendran’s failure to sign the petition will also be investigated.

Earlier, RSS ideologue R Balashankar had claimed that the CPM and BJP had a deal with each other in many parts of the state. He noted that the two are engaged in a quid-pro-quo deal as BJP will allow CPM to win Chengannur, while the left party will help BJP in Konni. Balashankar alleged that the BJP is sacrificing two A-class constituencies — Chengannur and Aranmula — to win Konni. Meanwhile, the Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Thalasseri to campaign for Haridas, and now, instead, he will visit a constituency where the party has no candidate.

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