Thiruvananthapuram: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah on Monday addressed party leaders on the concluding day of the state committee meeting here and claimed that the party has been successful in bringing down the prices of a lot of food items.
According to reports, to build party muscle in the state where the BJP has never won a seat in state or national elections, Shah planned to visit Kerala.
He also raked up the issue of "communal appeasement" to attack Congress' UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF, alleging they were only pursuing vote bank politics and "neglecting" the state's development.
Addressing a special convention of party functionaries right from grass roots level on his maiden visit to the state after taking charge as BJP president, he said this was evident from the "eagerness" shown by both the coalitions for the release of Kerala-based PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani, facing trial in Bangalore bomb blasts case.
Recalling the BJP's central slogan of "Congress-free India", Shah said if this goal was to be achieved fully, Congress should be defeated in Kerala also and urged party workers to gear up to face the civic elections early next year and the Assembly polls in 2016 in the state, where it has consistently failed to make electoral breakthrough.
Shah made it clear that his objective was to make the BJP stronger in all southern states, including Kerala and also Odisha, Assam and West Bengal.
Targeting both Congress and Left, he said, "When the LDF was in power, a resolution was passed by the state Assembly unanimously for Madani's release. "Going a step further, the Congress Chief Minister (Ommen Chandy) went all the way to Bangalore to meet the PDP leader. Madani is actually a symbol of the politics of communal appeasement pursued by both the fronts."
Shah also said, "It is surprising" that Congress, while boasting of being secular, was having partnership with Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in Kerala." While failing to lead the state to development, these coalitions that alternated in power had also indulged in corruption and "scams are surfacing one by one", he alleged.
On the performance of the Narendra Modi Government in its first 100 days, he said the policy initiatives indicated the beginning of "good days ahead." If the first things that the previous UPA regime did on coming to power was to repeal POTA as part of its "communal appeasement policy", one of the first steps of the present NDA Government was to make efforts to bring back black money stashed in banks abroad. This clearly shows the qualitative difference between the two ministries, he said.
Rubbishing the opposition charge that Modi Government had failed to rein in prices of essential commodities, Shah said the truth was that inflation index had come down from nine to six per cent.
Another pointer of the country going in the right direction was the growth rate touching 5.7 per cent and foreign investment crossing USD 320 million as revealed by recent statistics, he said.
Referring to the foreign policy, he said the decision to call off talks with Pakistan was a right one in view of the neighbouring country having parleys with separatists in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier in the day, Shah addressed the BJP state committee members and exhorted them to stay united and work for strengthening the party in all tiers. Shah, according to party sources, emphasised the need to strengthening unity in view of reports of factional trends in the state unit.
Earlier, senior leaders in Thiruvananthapuram had said that Shah's first target is next year's local body elections, billed as a semi-final ahead of the 2016 state elections, where the party hopes to win a few seats in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.
In the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, the BJP fielded candidates in most seats, but failed to make an impact in a state that has traditionally seen pitched political battles between the Congress and the Left and their local partners.
With agency inputs