Prepoll survey predicts sweep for Congress in Kerala as Sabarimala hurts Left

Left Front is likely to pay a heavy price for its stand on Sabarimala Temple, according to the survey

One of the biggest and first pre-election surveys held in Kerala has pointed to strong gains made by the United Democratic Alliance led by the Congress, and the National Democratic Alliance led by BJP due to the Sabarimala controversy.

Even as the Left Front was riding high on a wave of popularity before the Sabarimala controversy, a new pre-poll survey conducted by Kerala’s biggest news channel predicts that the Congress will win 14-16 out of the total 20 seats in the state.

The Left Front will be confined to a mere 3-5 seats, according to Asianet’s pre-poll survey, with the BJP possibly getting up to 1 seat.

This is in sharp contrast to the performance of by-elections before the Sabarimala controversy, which showed rising support for the Left Front government.

UDF is seen winning more seats this time

The results of the survey, based on a sample size of 5,500 people in 11 out of the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala, have dashed to pieces the ‘progressive’ calculations of the CPIM on the Sabarimala issue.

In a state where Hindus make up only about 52% of the population, a whopping 64% of the total respondents picked ‘Sabarimala issue’ as the most important factor that decided their voting pattern ahead of general elections 2019.

Fuel price increase was chosen by 25% of the people as the most important factor determining their vote, while demonetization was chosen by 15%. 6% highlighted the triple talaq issue, while Ram Temple is the most important issue for 5% of the respondents.

The respondents were asked for their stand on the Sabarimala issue.

66% of the respondents were in favor of protecting the temple traditions.

15% said the government should carry out the Supreme Court order, irrespective of what it says. Another 14% said women have the right to enter the temple and should be allowed in. 5% preferred to say nothing.

The Asianet pre-poll survey also had a question on which party’s stand more closely corresponded to their own stand.

In a state where the BJP’s vote share is in the single digits, a whopping 41% of the respondents said they supported the stand taken by the NDA in Sabarimala issue, while only 25% supported the stand taken by the Left Front and another 25% supported the stand taken by the UPA.

The NDA was strongly against the entry of women into the temple, while the Left Front was in favor of the same. The Congress did not have a clear policy, with the state leadership being against the entry of women and Rahul Gandhi supporting it.

On the question of how the respondents evaluated the stance of various political fronts on the Sabarimala issue, the response was as follows.

30% of the respondents felt the LDF’s stand on the issue was ‘very bad’, while only 14% of the respondents similarly characterized BJP’s stand on the matter as ‘very bad’. Only 10% described the Congress’ stand was very bad.

On being asked if Pinarayi Vijayan’s stand on the Sabarimala issue was correct, 54% said the stand taken by the chief minister in the matter was wrong. Only 25% supported the CM’s stand. 21% chose not to respond.

In what is also likely to be a fallout of the temple controversy, Pinarayi Vijayan, who was considered the most popular leader before the Supreme Court judgement, has been pushed to the third place among most popular leaders in the state.

24% of the total respondents chose Congress leader Oommen Chandy as their favorite leader, while only 18% chose Pinarayi Vijayan. In fact, VS Achyuthanandan, another CPIM leader, had more votes than Vijayan on this question, indicating that some of the Left supporters chose to go with Achyuthanandan instead of supporting the CM.

This is despite the fact that Achyuthanandan, almost a centenarian, has not been active in state politics for some time.