BJP’s delay in candidate declaration gives early-bird advantage to LDF, UDF in 4 segments



The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have inadvertently ceded a campaign trail advantage to the ruling front and the Opposition in four key parliamentary constituencies in the State by announcing candidates somewhat belatedly.

The party has fielded State unit chief K. Surendran in Wayanad, party veteran K.S. Radhakrishnan in Ernakulam, actor G. Krishnakumar in Kollam, and T.N.  Sarasu in Alathur.

By Sunday, when the BJP declared its candidates, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) had completed at least three rounds of campaigning in the battleground constituencies. Social and mainstream media sharply highlighted the BJP’s absence, and the void was jarringly conspicuous in the constituencies.

Unusual for political parties fighting a pivotal Lok Sabha election, the BJP’s wall graffiti, hoardings, and banners bizarrely lacked a candidate’s name or photograph. The emptiness enabled the LDF and the UDF to tailor the election debate to their “advantage” and shore up the credentials of their respective candidates.

Grassroots-level BJP workers seemed lost as the LDF and the UDF ramped up their house-to-house campaigning. A BJP insider said the blankness might have affected party workers’ morale.

The delay reportedly generated inner-party criticism that the protracted uncertainty in nomination might weaken the candidate’s chances. The BJP’s truancy at the hustings arguably reflected poorly on the party, chiefly in the Kollam Lok Sabha segment.

The LDF campaigned that the BJP plotted to give UDF candidate N.K. Premachandran an outsize campaign space by deliberately delaying its candidate announcement.

It did not help the UDF that Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a photograph of him lunching with Mr. Premachandran in Parliament on X. The picture went viral. Later, another MP who shared the table defected to the BJP, exposing Mr. Premachandran to LDF criticism that he would do the same.

The UDF vehemently denied the insinuation, claiming that Mr. Premachandran was BJP’s bugbear in the Lok Sabha and would continue to be so if elected.

Political parties have overriding reasons to settle on their standard-bearers in critical Lok Sabha elections. They are particularly conscious that any procrastination or playing for time might sap the enthusiasm of grassroots workers.

However, given its organisational strengths and Prime Minister Modi’s persona, the BJP appears confident that it can easily afford to buck the trend and kick-start the campaign in the constituencies.


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