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Modi to address first Kerala election rally today as BJP ups offence

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address an election rally in Palakkad on Friday as the saffron party looks to end its political drought in the state in the assembly polls.

india Updated: May 06, 2016 10:31 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times
Modi,Prime Minister,Kerala elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address five election rallies in Kerala ahead of voting on May 16. The BJP is hoping to corner a good chunk of votes in the assembly elections, following its success in the local body polls.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address an election rally in Palakkad on Friday as the saffron party looks to end its political drought in Kerala in the assembly polls.

Arriving from Coimbatore on a helicopter, Modi will head to the venue close to Palakkad Fort where around a lakh workers are expected to attend his maiden poll rally.

“We are upbeat. Many seats are witnessing a tough three-cornered fight. With the visit of Prime Minister, the poll scene will electrify further,” BJP state chief, Kummanam Rajesekharan said.

This is the first of five rallies the PM will address in the state that goes to polls on May 16. Elaborate arrangements have been put in place, with security being tightened in Palakkad and surrounding areas.

While the Congress, tainted by scams, is battling to continue its run in the government, the Left is plotting its resurgence. The BJP though is hoping to open its account in the state, with many central ministers making a beeline for the state during the campaigning.

The party is strongly pitched in at least 25 constituencies where a tough tri-polar contest is unfolding.

As was the case in the 2014 general elections, the BJP is being powered by its ideological progenitor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, in the electoral battle. Of the 140 seats, the party is contesting 97 while its partner, the fledgling Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, a political outfit of backward Ezhavas, has put up candidates for 37. The rest have been given to smaller parties.

Though BJP only scored 10.4% of the votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the party notched its winnings up to 14% in the local body elections held six months ago. If the party adds another three to four per cent of votes, political equations will dramatically change, analysts note.

The saffron party’s steady growth is not good news for the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Communist Party of India (Maoist)-backed Left Democratic Front.

What makes the Congress-CPM tussle a weak link for both parties is their alliance in West Bengal, which is also voting in assembly polls.

“It is time to weed out two corrupt and inefficient dispensations. Both (Congress and CPIM) are friends in Bengal. They should explain why they are arrayed against each other here,” BJP party chief Amit Shah said during his two-day visit.

Modi is also expected to talk about this “unholy alliance.”

As voter bases polarise, the BJP has been appealing to caste outfits and sulking political partners for some time. The latest addition to their camp is Adivasi leader CK Janu, who is contesting from Wayanad in north Kerala.

First Published: May 06, 2016 10:31 IST