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2024 Lok Sabha Election Results LIVE: BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar Leads Shashi Tharoor In Thiruvananthapuram

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Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is narrowly behind – by around 8,500 votes at 11.15 am – the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the fight for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat in Kerala that he has won for the past three elections. Note, though, that these are still early figures.

In 2009 he defeated the CPI’s P Ramachandran Nair by nearly one lakh votes, and polled over 14 per cent more. In 2014 he edged the BJP’s O Rajagopal by fewer than 16,000 votes. Five years later the margin was much healthier; Mr Tharoor thumped the BJP’s K Rajasekharan by one lakh votes.

Exit polls had suggested Mr Chandrasekhar will defeat his rival.

In April Mr Tharoor had questioned the campaign strategy of the ruling Left front, which is an on-paper ally of the Congress-led INDIA bloc but is contesting as a rival in the state. Mr Tharoor admitted long-standing variations in political ideologies could mean parties allied in one state may be rivals in another.

But, speaking to NDTV after casting his vote, he underlined the point that the Left and the Congress were fighting for the same side. “When we are fighting an election to change the government in Delhi… this is a national election. The objective is to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said.

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He was referring to the CPI, which is part of the INDIA bloc, but has fielded a candidate of its own for the seat. It has also fielded a candidate – senior leader Annie Raja – against Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad.

Mr Tharoor, however, played down any possible rift between the allies.

“Each Indian state has its own political character… it is not uncommon that we are allies in one state and not in a neighbouring state. For example, in Kerala the Left and Congress-led UDF (United Democratic Front) have been at loggerheads for over 55 years… that won’t change overnight.”

Rajeev Chandrasekhar Poll Affidavit Row

The Congress leader also took a jab at his rival, the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar, over controversy over his poll affidavit, which said his taxable income for FY2021/22 was only Rs 680.

The Congress had filed a complaint with the Election Commission.

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Mr Chandrasekhar had explained that his taxable income “sharply reduced because of partnership losses incurred during the Covid period”. Dismissing the Congress’ “obvious attempt to distract voters from the main issues of progress, development, jobs, and investments…”, he also took a double jibe – one at the party’s “first family (a reference to the Gandhis)” and another at Mr Tharoor.

Kerala Lok Sabha Election

The battle for Kerala’s 20 Lok Sabha seats is of particular interest in this election given the BJP has never won a Lok Sabha seat in the southern state, and is hoping to finally open its account.

And there is some very good news on that front, with the party on course to win two; the other is Thrissur, where Suresh Gopi is leading K Muraleedharan of the Congress by nearly 40,000 votes.

Exit polls gave the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance one seat, and predicted a big win – 16 seats – for the Congress-led United Democratic Front. The ruling Left Democratic Front was given three.

Current figures back that prediction, with the BJP leading in two and the INDIA bloc (the Congress alliance) ahead in 17.

In the 2019 election, the UDF won 19 seats with a vote share of 47.48 per cent. The LDF, or the Left Front won a single seat, despite being the ruling party in the state.

The BJP got only 15.64 per cent of the total vote share.

2024 Lok Sabha Election: What Exit Polls Said

Two of 12 exit pollsters – India Today-Axis My India and India TV-CNX – believe the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could amass as much as 401 seats. A third – News24-Today’s Chanakya – says it will land on the 400-seat mark, and three others – ABP News-C Voter, Jan Ki Baat, and News Nation – give Mr Modi’s election-winning juggernaut a maximum of 383, 392, and 378 seats.

READ | PM Modi Hat-Trick, Powered By South, Bengal, Odisha: Exit Polls

The BJP coalition is not expected to go below 281 in the race to win 272 seats.

The INDIA bloc – seen by many as a ragtag bunch of opposition parties – laughed off the predictions and vowed it will do what it set out to in June last year – defeat Prime Minister Modi and the BJP.

Congress boss Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi have insisted the group will win 295 seats.

The available exit poll data disagrees, although four give the bloc 150+ seats.

READ | Verdict On BJP’s ‘400 Paar’ Today. Can Party Repeat Congress Feat?

TV9 Bharatvarsh-Polstrat, Times Now-ETG, and Republic TV-P Marq say the INDIA group will win 166, 152, and 154 seats, while News Nation and ABP News-C Voter predict hauls between 152 and 182.

India News-D Dynamics and News 24-Today’s Chanakya are far less sanguine, predicting 125 and 107 seats only, while the others believe INDIA will score between 109 and 166 seats.

The BJP is, it therefore seems, well on its way to scoring 370 seats (the internal target), and is closer than many expected to the ‘abki baar, 400 paar’ target that includes its NDA partners’ success.

 Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor faces a challenge from the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the fight for Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram seat, which he has held since 2009.    

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