The BJP saw a major defeat in Palakkad after Metroman E Sreedharan, one of the party’s most recognised faces, lost the race. The counting in the Palakkad constituency was like a thriller as Sreedharan maintained a lead in many of the 17 rounds. However, as the last rounds of counting began- Pirayiri, Mathur and Kannadi panchayats came to the rescue of Congress candidate and incumbent MLA Shafi Parambil.
During the election campaign, Sreedharan saw a surge in support from Palakkad constituency. In one of his interviews, the 88-year-old had also stated that he was confident of winning the seat, so much that he set up an MLA office and took a house on rent in Palakkad, to shift to the constituency.
As an MLA candidate in Palakkad, Sreedharan’s promises included increasing jobs in the constituency, and bringing in more industries and development. He had also made controversial statements on ‘love jihad’ — a narrative spun by the right-wing, which alleges that Muslim men are marrying women from other religions to forcefully convert them.
Palakkad has traditionally oscillated between the Left and the Congress, and since 2011, the constituency has had Congress leader Shafi Parambil as its MLA. Although BJP controls the Palakkad municipality, Shafi had told TNM that he was confident about winning.
During opinion polls and exit polls, many experts pointed out that the constituency’s high upper-caste Hindu population, coupled with Sreedharan’s reputation could help the BJP.
The BJP has till now won only once in Kerala- the Nemom seat in Thiruvananthapuram in 2016. This time around, the party lost its Nemom seat to LDF’s V Sivankutty, and has closed its account in Kerala.