Kerala: Anil Antony's defeat in Pathanamthitta triggers blame games

In the district, BJP’s vote share fell to 25.5 per cent from 28.95 per cent in 2019

Anil Antony had quit the Congress in 2023 (photo: @anilkantony/X)
Anil Antony had quit the Congress in 2023 (photo: @anilkantony/X)

Ashlin Mathew

The defeat of Anil Antony from the Pathanamthitta seat has triggered a backlash against him from within the BJP and the NDA, apparently. He had quit the Congress last year and joined the BJP, being quickly made the party’s national secretary.

In Pathanamthitta, the BJP’s vote share fell to 25.5 per cent, from 28.95 per cent in 2019. This is one of the three constituencies where the BJP’s vote share has decreased from their 2019 percentage.

BJP state president K. Surendran had contested from this same seat in 2019 and had increased the vote share to 28.95 per cent from the 17.4 per cent of 2014. Notably, Surendran had contested in the aftermath of the Sabarimala protests in the district.

This year's drubbing, however, has led senior NDA leader P.C. George to lash out at Anil, the son of veteran Congress leader A.K. Antony, saying that neither does he have any connection with the place, nor does he speak the language of the people.

“He could not even win the BJP votes," said George. "He got the biggest support that any person could get. He lost because he has no connection with the land. The senior party leadership just handed over the constituency to him."

"How did Suresh Gopi win in Thrissur?" George continued, "He stayed there, worked there even after he lost the last election. He formed a relationship with the people and the place and connected with everyone.”

In March too, after Anil Antony’s candidature was announced, George had openly come out against his candidature.

“If Surendran, Ramesh, Kummanam Rajasekharan or Sreedharan Pillai had contested, BJP could have won the seat," said George. "Who knows Anil? People don’t know him, and he can’t even give a speech in Malayalam.”

George said he met Anil Antony after he was announced as a candidate.

Of the 20 constituencies in the state, the BJP’s vote share dipped only in Malappuram (0.06 per cent), Chalakudy (4.36) — where the BJP's ally Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) contested — and Pathanamthitta.

Across Kerala overall, however, the BJP vote share increased to 19.21 per cent from 15.6 per cent in the 2019 general election.

This time, BJP’s Suresh Gopi has won the Thrissur constituency, defeating Congress’ K. Muraleedharan and the CPI’s V.S. Sunil Kumar with a margin of 74,686 votes. Gopi garnered 37.8 per cent of the vote share.

Even union minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who contested in Thiruvananthapuram against three-time MP Shashi Tharoor, lost by only 16,077 votes. Here, Chandrasekhar increased the saffron party’s vote share to 35.5 per cent, from 31.13 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In Attingal too, union minister V. Muralidharan increased the BJP’s vote share to 31.6 per cent, from 24.66 per cent in 2019.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines