The most repeated question I had to answer to my friends from northern part of India Since May 16 was why did Kerala didn’t show even a sign of Modi tide in this election. I tried to answer it in bit and pieces but couldn’t actually convince my neo Modi friends with any theory. For every theory I proposed there was probing questions for which I failed to come up with any convincing conclusions.
Now after the results are out, There is now a broader consensus that the there were two visible narratives for this election one of aspiration and hope championed by Narendra Modi and the other one of fear of Modi by others. There were under currents of polarisation beneath the surface but judging by the result the conclusion is that the story of development and good governance did had a larger impact than the pessimistic negative campaign.
Considering theory of change and aspiration politics as the cause for Modi wave in India, One wonder why a politically active and highly literate electorate in Kerala didn’t buy it? By any standards the roads and other infrastructure in Kerala is in a dismay,The civic amenities is worse than any comparable north Indian city, People were more disillusioned with UPA than any other part of India and State government didn’t had a wonderful track record to boost.Still one wonders why Modi and BJP failed to convert the favourable climate to at least tide even if not a wave.
My logical conclusion are the following. The BJP failed to communicate effectively the hope and aspiration narrative successfully in kerala.
They failed miserably in selling the product “Gujarat Model” which was packaged superbly by Modi and successfully marketed in other parts of India.
The Gujarat Model and the Good roads ,Industrialisation, Jobs and economic revival are as relevant to an educated Malayali as his counterpart in North.
But none of it was a primary discussion in this election in kerala.Modi’s oratory skills were not able to impress the Malayali and lost in translation.
The Kerala media houses was successful in ensuring the two rallies he attended in Kerala was a no event. When the speeches by modi was aired live by national television ,there was not even one media house which had given more than 5 minute time for airing Modi’s speech at Thiruvanthapuram.
So the Marketing of the “Gujarat model” and “Good times ahead “failed miserably in Kerala and the lack of any meaningful leadership in the state failed to dictate this narrative in this election.
If you go by the other narrative of communal argument that Modi succeeded in polarising the electorate theory ,This should had a greater impact in Kerala under the current circumstances especially in southern part. There was an ideal scenario to reap benefit from such an approach. There was a government controlled by minorities and there were lot of propaganda run by various Hindu sections formation prior to elections in these lines.BJP having realised the need for minority votes didn’t actively pursue this approach either.
Oomen chandy attributed the congress win to the liberal and secular mind set of Kerala community.
But that is difficult to digest to someone who leave in Kerala where religion and caste divisions are increasingly growing in all aspect f social life.
If that was the case AAP should have made a better footprint in Kerala in this election.
The lefts theory of minority polarisation due to the fear of Modi helping congress in Kerala too is flawed as this time they did all the trick in its books to get it share from minority.
So digesting this election to find why Kerala voted differently or rather why Modi didn’t had any positive impact lead to only one answer. There was no right positioning of what worked in India in Kerala.
You will not find any one on in Kerala who has even a slight hope of anything related to governance of government will ever change. They have strong belief and conviction about what a government means in India at all levels which cannot be broken that easily. Until and Unless a strong leader emerge who can directly communicate to Middle class and lower section of the society in Kerala effectively like Modi did in UP,
Kerala will continue to choose to remain the way it is deep routed in despair and denial and as of now there is no light at the end of the tunnel.