Thiruvananthapuram: Having steadily increased its vote share in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is confident it will finally bag an assembly seat in Kerala this time. The BJP is likely to field candidates in all 140 constituencies in the April 13 election. Its leaders say they are hopeful of opening the party's account from Kasargode district.
The best BJP showing in Kerala thus far has been from two constituencies in Kasargode where it came runners up in three elections. Muralidhar Rao, the BJP national secretary and party in-charge for Kerala, says things will be different this time.
"The BJP leadership has taken the electoral battle very seriously. We will open our account in the Kerala assembly," Rao told IANS. He said Sushma Swaraj, who is also leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, will stay put and lead the campaign in the state which has till now been divided between the two fronts led by the Congress and Marxists. Other BJP national leaders will also campaign in the state.
The first list of candidates is expected to be announced on Friday. It would include the big names from the state, including former central minister O. Rajagopal, former state president P.K. Krishna Das, C.K. Padmanabhan and K. Surendran.
"This time there is going to be more than one lotus which will bloom in the state," Rao said.
"A lot of factors are in our favour. Our performance in the October local bodies poll is our strength," said Krishna Das. Krishna Das has already started the first round of campaign at Kattakada in rural Thiruvananthapuram.
In the October local bodies polls, the BJP almost doubled the number of seats, from 550 in 2005 to more than 970 seats. It also came second in more than 1,000 seats.
"Gone are the days when the media used to depict us as a party which sells its votes," added Surendran, who has begun a door-to-door campaign at Manjesweram in Kasargode.
BJP's vote share in the 2006 assembly elections was six percent. This rose to 10 percent in the May 2009 Lok Sabha election, and to 12 percent in the October 2010 local bodies polls.
BJP's best hopes lie in Manjesweram and Kasargode constituencies - both in Kasargode district - where it took the second slot in the past three assembly polls. The party also enjoys a strong presence in Nemom and Kattakada in the capital district.
Rajagopal's candidature has been unofficially announced. He is set to be fielded from Nemom. In 2006, he finished third but with a healthy 25,000 - plus votes from Palakkad.
"Why we are confident is because the two fronts here have failed. When it comes to corruption, they are like two sides of a coin," said Surendran, referring to the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the ruling Left Democratic Front.
"The biggest casualty this time is the CPI-M. The vote banks of the CPI-M and the BJP are the same. We will make inroads into this vote bank, and the lotus will bloom for certain," said Surendran.