Lok Sabha Polls: How BJP Looking To Overcome Challenges In Kerala

'Modi's guarantee' will be the main catchphrase of the BJP's electoral campaign this time in Kerala, party leaders said.

Lok Sabha Polls: How BJP Looking To Overcome Challenges In Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The BJP is intensifying its efforts to break its electoral dry spell in Kerala as the state braces for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. With a concerted focus on outreach, particularly towards the minority Christian community, the party aims to secure a foothold in the southern state. Kerala's demographic landscape, with Muslims and Christians constituting a significant portion of the population, presents a formidable challenge for the BJP, perceived as a pro-Hindu party. However, the party is leaving no stone unturned in its bid to appeal to diverse voter segments. 

In a strategic move, the BJP has welcomed prominent Christian figures like Anil K Antony, son of Congress stalwart A K Antony, and seasoned Kerala politician P C George, into its fold. Additionally, the party is leveraging Prime Minister Narendra Modi's frequent visits to Kerala, emphasising developmental agendas tailored to the state's needs. To bolster its electoral prospects, the BJP has strategically fielded two Union Ministers, Rajeev Chandrasekhar and V Muraleedharan, alongside popular actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi. The party's campaign slogan, 'Modi's guarantee', underscores its reliance on the Prime Minister's popularity and leadership. 

'Modi's guarantee' will be the main catchphrase of the BJP's electoral campaign this time in Kerala, party leaders said. While the BJP is confident that its strategy will play out as planned, the two major traditional players in the state politics-- the Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF believe that it will not help the saffron party secure even a single seat. Disregarding the criticism and doubts raised by the Left front and the Congress, the BJP's state general secretary George Kurien said that the people of Kerala no longer have any trust in either of them which is why they will vote for the saffron party. To fulfill the party's desire to make inroads in the state and secure seats in double digits, as revealed by the PM during his most recent visit to Kerala, the BJP has fielded candidates who were best suited and "fit" for the job, Kurien said. "We felt that they were the most fit, the best suited candidates to contest from Kerala," he told PTI in response to a query as to why the party fielded Union Ministers of State Muraleedharan and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Gopi and Anil.

Gopi, Muraleedharan and Chandrasekhar will contest from the Thrissur, Attingal, and Thiruvananthapuram constituencies, respectively, while Anil Antony has been fielded from the Pathanamthitta constituency. Explaining why Gopi has been nominated from Thrissur, Kurien said that he had managed to triple the party's vote share last time when he contested from that constituency.

"Similarly, in Attingal and Thiruvananthapuram too, we have seen an increase in the party's vote share," he said. Antony's son was also the correct choice, the BJP leader said. Terming the BJP's preparations as "gimmicks" Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan said it indicated the saffron party's "lack of confidence to fight the battle politically" as they have realised they are not going to get any political ground in Kerala based on their ideology.

"That is why they are running after people from other parties or actors. But they are thoroughly mistaken, as Kerala is a very political state, and for that very reason, the people will not accept such gimmicks," he told PTI. With regard to the nominations of the two Union Ministers, Muraleedharan and Chandrasekhar, the Congress MLA said neither was going to make a difference. "They both tried their luck earlier, but none of them could make an impact in Kerala," he said.

CPI leader P P Suneer too, was of the same view as Kuzhalnadan that the BJP's plans to make electoral gains in the upcoming LS polls are bound to fail.
"There is no possibility of their strategy working out in Kerala. It might work in north India, but not here," he said. He said that people in Kerala are very political and would not be swayed by film stars like Gopi. When it was pointed out that the actor managed to triple the party's vote share in Thrissur in the 2019 LS polls, Suneer said that was because of his novelty factor.

"It was the same when Rahul Gandhi contested from Wayanad last time. Five years have gone by. There have been a lot of issues since then," he said.
"There is no way the vote share would increase this time," he added. Regarding the fielding of the central ministers, Suneer said their presence would not influence voters as they have not done anything for Kerala.

"The PM only made back-to-back trips to the state and announced some projects, but did nothing to benefit the public. His visits are only for publicity," the CPI state assistant secretary said. Suneer also said that the recent defection of Padmaja Venugopal, daughter of late Congress stalwart and former Kerala CM K Karunakaran, to the BJP will not benefit the saffron party and has only served to spoil the public's faith in the Congress.

"The LDF will benefit from it," he added. Kuzhalnadan said that it was unfortunate that she moved to the BJP. "But we will get over it. Karunakaran's son, K Muraleedharan, has decided to contest from Thrissur. It is a strong reply to the BJP. "Padmaja going to the BJP will ultimately damage them politically," the MLA from Muvattupuzha contended.

Regarding the recent statement of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan that the defections from Congress will erode people's trust in them, Kuzhalnadan said the Marxist veteran was trying to shift attention from the corruption allegations he was facing. Kurien on the other hand said that the Congress and the Left Front, being the political rivals of the BJP, will always say that the saffron party will get no seats in Kerala. "But the people will prove them wrong," Kurien said.