The Indian National Congress (INC) has to thank the voters of Kerala in a big way as this proved to be the lone state where the party scored a double digit victory. As for the Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Kerala salvaged his pride and that of the party as well by returning him victorious with a huge margin from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat and has kept him in the fight despite his embarrassing rout from the family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress-led alliance under the banner United Democratic Front (UDF) swept the state’s 19 out of 20 Lok Sabha constituencies, leaving just one seat Alapuzha for the ruling Left Democratic Front. Besides Gandhi, who won by a comfortable margin of over 4 lakh votes, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor also won from Thiruvanthapuram seat, defeating his nearest BJP rival and former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan.
This time it was a three-cornered contest in the state with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) invoking the Sabarimala temple issue in a big way. After Supreme Court ordered entry of women in the temple and LDF government complied with the same, BJP opposed state’s move in the name of protecting Hindu traditions and rituals. The party hoped to reap electoral gains in Pathanamthitta seat (where Sabarimala temple is situated). But the man who spearheaded the BJP’s Sabarimala campaign – K Surendran – came a distant third from that seat. Even star power in the form of actor Suresh Gopi contesting for BJP from Thrissur failed to work any magic.
The clear losers were LDF down 6 in 2014 to just one. While this could be a sign of discontent the government would face in the coming Assembly elections, but political pundits are blaming the rout to the state’s adamant stand on Sabarimala issue and continuing violence between Left and BJP activists which made voters sway in favour of Congress and helped consolidate minority votes.