Allegations of vote trading between BJP and UDF
The drop in Bharatiya Janata Party’s vote share in Thripunithura constituency by over 6,000 votes from the previous election has triggered a political controversy in the wake of the United Democratic Front’s victory by a thin margin.
While BJP candidate Thuravur Vishwambaran garnered 29,843 votes in 2016, it dropped by 6,087 votes to 23,756 this time despite the party fielding a reputed academic like K.S. Radhakrishnan. Mr. Radhakrishnan had predicted 60,000 votes and victory, but ended up far from it.
That the difference in BJP’s vote share is nearly five times more than the slender lead of 992 votes by which the UDF candidate K. Babu defeated the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate M. Swaraj has triggered allegations of vote trading between the BJP and the UDF.
Mr. Swaraj said the result had vindicated his observations before the election of “an unholy nexus between the BJP and the UDF”. “In our post-election analysis, we had anticipated a vote trade in excess of 5,000 votes but had hoped to overcome it. This trading of votes will be debated in the State politically and people will realise the truth of the matter. Whatever be the case, secularism will eventually prevail,” said Mr. Swaraj, adding that the matter would closely be looked into.
Incidentally, soon after his candidature, Mr. Babu had openly declared that he would get BJP votes. That statement was used to target Mr. Babu by rival A.B. Sabu of the Congress ‘I’ faction, who said it would lead to polarisation of minority votes against the UDF in the election. The post-election review meeting held by the UDF had unanimously passed a resolution seeking the ouster of Mr. Sabu on account of his public statements.
On the eve of the election, posters in the name of Sabarimala Karma Samithi had appeared across the constituency that exhorted people not to vote for the BJP to defeat the LDF. Sabarimala Karma Samithi denied it and Mr. Swaraj alleged it to be the handiwork of Mr. Babu.
When contacted, BJP sources in Thripunithura said it was premature to comment on the drop in vote share and that specifics would have to be looked into. However, other BJP and RSS sources said the drop in vote share could be an indication of vote trading. They attributed the poor show by the party to lack of proper work and accused the newly inducted workers of indulging in “Facebook politics” rather than working among the people.
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