JP Nadda to visit Kerala as part of BJP’s renewed outreach

Published on Sep 19, 2022 04:58 AM IST

The BJP chief's visit on September 25 and 26 is expected to set the ball rolling for the inclusion of leaders from other parties who can help the party's performance.

BJP chief JP Nadda (File Photo)
BJP chief JP Nadda (File Photo)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda’s visit to Kerala later this month will set the stage for the party’s renewed outreach in the state ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. On the agenda, are public programmes, meetings with community leaders, rallies and a possible rejig in the state unit, following a long pending demand from the cadre, party leaders said.

Though the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its ideological mentor, has been working consistently over the years to expand the BJP’s footprint in the coastal state, barring winning an odd assembly seat in 2016, electoral victory has eluded the party.

Now, with the central leadership having set targets for the 2024 polls, and having identified 73,000 booths where its performance was found wanting in the previous general elections, there is pressure on the state unit to intensify activities.

“There is immense pressure on the party leadership (in the state) to turn things around. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Kochi (earlier this month to inaugurate the Metro), was not too pleased by the perception about the party and the leadership. Based on the feedback from meetings with a cross-section of people, it was felt (by the central leadership) that there is a leadership and credibility crisis that needs to be urgently addressed,” a state functionary said on condition of anonymity.

Nadda’s visit on September 25 and 26 is expected to set the ball rolling for the inclusion of leaders from other parties who can help the BJP’s performance.

“There are many leaders from other parties who are in touch with us. They see a healthy alternative in the BJP and want to help the party expand its base,” said a second leader also requesting anonymity.

Statements from the Bishop of Palla and the Pastor of the Thallassery Diocese about love jihad have given the BJP hope that Christians have warmed up to the saffron outfit. Love jihad is the term used by the right-wing to accuse Muslim men of luring girls from other communities into interfaith marriages.

“For long now, the BJP has been flagging the issue of PFI [Popular Front of India]’s rise in the state, the impact it has on the internal security and the everyday lives of people,” said the second functionary. “When we raised the issue of love jihad, the liberals called it a bogey, now the church is also worried. Similarly, we have been talking about the pace of development and diminishing industry in the state...”

The top brass, which recently appointed former union minister Prakash Javadekar as the in-charge for the state, has instructed state leaders to identify beneficiaries of central schemes, and identify the constituencies where the party has a better chance of winning.

A section of state leaders has also been pushing for a change in the state unit. Several have complained about state president K Surendran’s decision making and allegations against his family, according to the first functionary cited earlier. “His son has been in a controversy. In the last election, he chose to go against popular opinion and contested from two seats, and lost both. So, they want a new team in place before 2024,” the functionary said.

Surendran said the allegations against him are fabricated.

“The state unit is focusing on all 20 Lok Sabha seats. We are going to highlight the corruption by the Pinarayi Vijayan government and how the central government has made no distinction between Kerala and other BJP-ruled states...”

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party did not win any seats. Its vote share rose to 12.9% from previous election’s 10.3%.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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