Towards the fag end of the election campaign in Kerala, an advertisement sponsored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) played out on all channels. The fifth in a series of ads for the Kerala BJP, it had the familiar setting of a tea shop with a small group of youth talking politics. One of the young men is seen professing his newfound love for the BJP to his Modi-fied friend but seems unsure if he should go on and vote for the BJP. “Even if I were to vote for the BJP, would they win from Kerala?”
For a long time, many pro-BJP folks in Kerala have faced the same predicament. A vote for the BJP meant a waste of a vote as BJP candidates contested ritually for third place. However, the 2016 assembly elections saw the contests becoming triangular in a dozen constituencies with the votes polled by the BJP (or their ally BDJS) deciding the winner and loser in many more seats. This was never the case earlier and it presaged a brighter future for the BJP after decades of toil.