Kerala yatra loses fizz as Amit Shah quits abruptly

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 08, 2018

Losing steam The BJP’s Janaraksha Yatra is led by the party’s State unit president Kummanam Rajasekharan at Pinarayi, Kannur district, on Thursday   -  SK Mohan

State unit of BJP carries on with far less enthusiasm

The third day of the ongoing Janaraksha Yatra by the BJP in Kerala suffered a major setback when party president Amit Shah skipped it and flew to Delhi on what party circles described as an urgent call from the Prime Minister.

On Thursday, Shah was scheduled to lead the yatris through the Marxist hotbed of Pinarayi, the hometown of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the run-up to which had seen the party go into a publicity overdrive.

In fact, this was planned as the tour de force in the 15-day calendar of the yatra and watched with keen interest even as the CPI(M) called for an unofficial hartal in Pinarayi and neighbourhood and shops shuttered down in response.

The police had descended in huge numbers since the entire route from Mambaram, from where the yatra resumed on the third day, to Thalassery, where it would end, is noted for hostilities between the CPI(M) and RSS/BJP.

But all this came to nought as Kummanam Rajasekharan, State BJP president and yatra leader, announced to a stunned gathering of party workers at Mambaram that Shah would not join them since he had left for Delhi. The Kerala BJP had politely rejected Shah’s offer to join the yatra at ‘some stage’ in order to not cause him the needless trouble of flying all the way back the same day, Rajasekharan added. Shah’s absence would not in any way affect the resolve and morale of the BJP workers to stand up to the “ crooked tricks” of the CPI(M) which had enforced a hartal locally, he further said. They can’t prevent people from gathering in droves to receive the yatris, he added.

Tepid response

Meanwhile, BJP party circles dismissed insinuations that Shah had chosen to skip both the second and third days of the yatra after the tepid response it had generated.

Other sources said the coverage of the event on the opening day itself was drowned by breaking news about jailed Malayalam cinema star Dileep being granted bail in a high-profile rape case.

The ‘no-show’ of Shah has since become a major talking point not just among the public but also in the media. Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have since become the toast of trolls from Kerala.

Both the ruling CPI(M) and the Opposition Congress took turns to blast the BJP for what they described as attempts to divide people in Kerala by forcing on them “rabble-rousers of the likes of Adityanath”.

In a hard-hitting speech, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday that the BJP-RSS had terribly underestimated Kerala and its people. They haven’t quite been able to comprehend the collective psyche of the latter, he said.

“This State is not going to tremble before your excesses — physical or emotional — and much less cower in terror in front of the might of weapons that you have amassed,” Vijayan thundered at a meeting here.

Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of Opposition, poured scorn on the BJP, saying the hush-hush manner in which Shah left the borders of the State talks volumes about the prospects of Janaraksha Yatra, which has “turned a yatra of mourners” since then.

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Published on October 05, 2017
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