Thiruvananthapuram: Veteran BJP leader O. Rajagopal finished third in Aruvikkara constituency in Kerala on Tuesday but the party’s vote share saw a significant five-fold increase from 2011.
The development stunned both the Congress, whose K.A. Sabarinathan won the seat by 10,128 votes, and the Left. Sabarinathan got 56,448 votes with CPI-M leader M. Vijayakumar finishing second with 46,320 votes.
The 85-year-old Rajagopal polled 34,145 votes, against the around 7,000 votes the party got in the 2011 assembly elections.
The BJP is yet to open its account in the 140-member Kerala assembly.
“I am sad we could not finish in the second place but the writing on the wall for the Oommen Chandy government is clear that corruption will not be tolerated,” said Rajagopal.
Rajagopal has contested more than half a dozen elections in Kerala. He lost the 2014 Lok Sabha election to Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor by a mere 15,000 votes.
“We are the only party to see a huge growth in our voter base in Aruvikkara,” Bharatiya Janata Party state president V. Muraleedharan told IANS.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy played down the performance of Rajagopal, saying the votes had been secured by him in view of his stature and not by the BJP.
“The CPI-M’s negative campaign also helped the BJP,” said Chandy.
CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said there were a lot of undercurrents in the constituency on caste creed and communal lines. “This does not augur well,” he said.
The BJP has been trying its best for years to make an electoral mark in Kerala, where the two main contenders for power are the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front of the CPI-M.