National

As PM engages Bengal, Amit Shah heads to Kerala

Our Bureau. Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 07, 2021

To address BJP's 'Vijaya Yatra' in Thiruvananthapuram

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address what the BJP believes would be one of the largest crowds and takes the battle to the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, Home Minister Amit Shah will try to stir up an assemblage in Thiruvananthapuram to launch a campaign for the Kerala Assembly polls.

Amit Shah is expected to arrive here on Sunday evening after a busy campaign schedule in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu in which he would launch a door-to-door campaign in Kanyakumari district just before leaves for Kerala, sources said.

Core Committee meeting

The Home Minister is expected to take part in a meeting of the party Core Committee which is expected to finalise a draft first list of candidates among whom is Metroman E Sreedharan, who has just retired from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to join the party and is being fielded as a candidate.

He will most likely be granted a seat of choice in accordance with his wish not to move far away from his native place. Palakkad is said to be the seat that the party has in mind for him. The party had earlier faced a slight embarrassment due to confusion over his projected status as the Chief Minister candidate.

‘A-class’ constituencies

Of the 140 seats at stake in the State, the BJP currently has just a single seat in nonagenarian O Rajagopal from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram. The 'well-oiled' party machinery has left no stone unturned in its efforts over the past few months marked by major controversies landing the ruling LDF in disarray, sources said.

There are at least 10 constituencies that the party considers ‘A-class' where it strongly believes that it can pull it off. These are seats it had lost in the 2016 elections by margins so close that it believes can be turned over to its advantage given the political flux the State is currently in.

‘Hard-hitting speech’ expected

Meanwhile, Home Minister Shah will address a crowd assembling on the Sankumughom beach sands in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday evening as part of culmination of the Vijaya Yatra that K Surendran, President of the State unit of the party, has been piloting from the North to the South from earlier in February.

The Home Minister is expected to go hard after the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) for the ‘many criminal acts of omission and commission’ that the BJP says have been laid out threadbare by the Department of Customs lately in the gold/foreign currency smuggling case.

Prize catches, too

Though less spectacular than in West Bengal, the party’s drive to attract prominent personalities into its fold has borne fruits in Kerala, too, especially during the course of Surendran’s Vijaya Yatra. Apart from Metroman Sreedharan, its prize catch list also includes Jacob Thomas, a former director-general of police, among others.

The party's messaging to the influential Christian community in the state too has undergone a transformation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself having granted an audience to warring factions of the Church at the instance of Mizoram Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai, also a former Kerala BJP president.

The Prime Minister had intervened to settle a century-old dispute between two Christian factions in the state in what observers tend to see as a political move to woo voters in Central Kerala. Modi had met separately with top leaders of the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Church on December 28 and 29 last.

Published on March 07, 2021

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