Northeast under its belt, the BJP is out to win Kerala, with a massive public outreach programme that plans to embrace the two key non-Hindu communities — Muslims and Christians. Together, the two comprise 46 per cent of the population, crucial to crack into a state that has traditionally been a bastion of the Left and the Congress.
The BJP, which stepped up its outreach in Kerala ahead of the 2019 election, has been unable to make inroads.
Bucking the national trend, the party had drawn a blank in the state despite its high-pitched agitation on the Sabarimala issue. The Congress had won 15 of the state’s 20 Lok Sabha seats. Its allies won another four — the Indian Union Muslim League bagged two and the Kerala Congress (Mani group) and Revolutionary Socialist Party one seat each.
The outcome was seen as a rejection of the party’s stance on religious issues.
The BJP’s growth in the state has been stymied since, despite the many incidents of communal clash between the right-wing supporters and the Left.
Sources said the huge outreach programme planned this time will involve BJP workers visiting the homes of Christians on Easter week. On April 9, Easter Sunday, 10,000 BJP workers will visit the homes of 1 lakh Christians.
Last year, during the Christmas week, thousands of BJP workers visited the homes of Christians with gifts, sources said.
The right-wing workers will also visit the homes of Muslims on Eid in the third week of April.
Christians will be invited to the homes of right-wing activists on the festival of Vishu on April 15.
BJP leaders say while the common people have welcomed the initiative, it is being closely watched by the ruling Left and the opposition Congress.
The outreach is the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had asked the party cadre to organise a “sneha samvaad” (message of affection) to the minorities in Kerala during the party’s national executive meet in Hyderabad.
After the victory in the three northeastern states, PM Modi also said at a programme organised at the BJP headquarters in Delhi that the party will form a coalition government in Kerala, where assembly elections are due in 2026.
He indicated that this time, the party would bank on the support of the Christian community, who, he said, had given much support to it in the northeast.
Pointing to the two dominant parties in Kerala, he had said while the Left and Congress are bitter rivals in the state, they contested the Tripura elections as allies.
Sources said the BJP is also planning a “Thank Modi” programme, which will involve testimonies from beneficiaries of various Central projects in the state. Already around 12,000 people have sent in “Thanks Modi” videos in Malayalam.
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