(PTI)
(PTI)

After poll debacle, Kerala BJP president PIllai to quit?

  • Kerala is the only majorly populated state where the BJP has never won a parliamentary seat
  • The Congress swept 19 out of 20 seats in Kerala

Bengaluru: Members of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Kerala unit are an anxious lot. Unlike their counterparts across most of India who have been enjoying celebrations and promotions following the party’s landslide victory in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the Kerala BJP leadership has been weighing damage control options, including the resignation of state party president P. S. Sreedharan Pillai after the saffron party’s poor performance in the state.

Minutes before heading into a closed-door meeting of leaders to analyse the poll debacle, a top state BJP leader came out against the unit on Tuesday, setting off speculation that it is the end of the road for Pillai.

“I’m not very happy because we were expecting some two to three seats. But drawing a blank is not happy for any karyakarta (worker), particularly for me, I was here for two months as election-in-charge," the BJP national secretary and Kerala-in charge Y. Satya Kumar told reporters in Alappuzha, where the party held a ‘core-committee’ meeting to discuss the results.

Kumar’s response follows Pillai comments who who termed the election results “satisfactory" in an earlier press conference, citing the increase in vote share for the BJP in Kerala.

Other leaders, aware of the discussions in the core committee meeting, told Mint on condition of anonymity, that Pillai was cornered in the meet and was accused of bringing down the swing votes of the party.

His leaked speech from an internal meeting, where he called Sabarimala agitation a “golden chance" impacted the voters, one leader said, as it made it look like the party was seeking political opportunities by backing the protestors rather than acting out of religious conviction. Pillai was unavailable for an immediate comment.

Kerala is the only majorly populated state where the BJP has never won a parliamentary seat. Riding on its biggest expansion in the state in recent history over the Sabarimala agitations, the party hoped to create history in 2019 Lok Sabha elections by winning at least three seats — Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur. It put its best foot forward in Thiruvananthapuram, where state BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan quit as Mizoram governor to fight the polls against star Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

But the results came as a shock for the BJP. Not only did the BJP not win any seats in the state, but the groundswell it had created over Sabarimala entirely went in favour of the Congress, its national opposition, which swept 19 of 20 seats in Kerala.

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