PM Modi’s intensified Kerala visits spark political fervour ahead of Lok Sabha Polls

BJP is elated by the back-to-back visits of the PM to Kerala, hoping to win a few seats in the Lok Sabha polls in the southern state.


Published Feb 25, 2024 | 2:47 PMUpdatedFeb 25, 2024 | 2:47 PM

Modi at the all-women event in Thrissur, Kerala. (X)

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making his third visit to Kerala in less than two months with the aim of fulfilling his dream of ending the electoral drought for the BJP in the southern state, where the party has historically faced challenges in winning elections.

Almost a year ago, Modi unveiled his party’s aspiration to secure power in Kerala. The announcement, made on 2 March, 2023, came following the BJP’s notable performance in elections within the Christian-majority states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, boosting confidence within the party.

According to party sources, Modi is scheduled to arrive in the Kerala state capital on Tuesday, 27 February, for an official programme, where he will also participate in the concluding ceremony of the ‘padayatra’ organised by the BJP’s state unit.

While the state BJP is elated by the back-to-back visits of the Prime Minister to Kerala, hoping to win a few seats in the Lok Sabha polls in the southern state and fully banking on Modi’s influence, both the CPI(M) and the Congress assert that the lotus will not bloom in the muddy political waters of the southern state.

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State unit expresses confidence

Encouraged by Prime Minister’s flurry of visits to Kerala as the state braces for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Sandeep Vachasapathi, state spokesperson of the Kerala BJP, expressed confidence in the party’s prospects, citing increased focus from the central leadership and growing acceptance of Modi among Keralites.

Vachasapathi claimed that Modi’s appeal is transcending religious and sectarian lines.

He dismissed concerns about past electoral setbacks, banking on Modi’s charisma to overcome obstacles and secure electoral success for the BJP in Kerala.

The BJP functionary said that their duty is to meet Modi’s expectations, noting a rise in the prime minister’s popularity among Kerala’s people.

“According to surveys, about 40 percent of voters in the state see Modi as the next Prime Minister of India,” he claimed.

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‘Change in favour of BJP’

Vachaspathi said that a noticeable change is visible in favour of the BJP on the ground compared to the 2014 and 2019 elections.

“In 2019, Congress’s hype around Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy from Wayanad contributed to the Congress-led UDF’s victory in Kerala, but there’s no similar wave nationally now,” he told PTI.

Vachaspathi claimed that there was a strong pro-Modi sentiment nationwide and among Malayalis.

“Many in Kerala now believe a representative from the state should be in Modi’s Cabinet. Thus, Modi’s visit boosts confidence and presents a challenge for party workers to fulfil this wish,” he said.

The BJP functionary expressed confidence in Modi’s appeal, claiming that minorities in Kerala, a significant portion of the population, will support him due to his universal acceptance and non-sectarian image.

However, the Congress and the CPI(M) remain steadfast in their anti-BJP stance.

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‘Will not work in Kerala’

Senior CPI(M) leader MA Baby accused the BJP of employing a strategy of persuasion and coercion to attract parties outside the NDA fold and said this would not work in Kerala.

He claimed that while such tactics have yielded some gains for the BJP through opportunistic policies, he condemned the approach as manipulative.

Baby criticised the BJP’s recruitment of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, formerly of the Congress, as an example of this alleged political opportunism.

He asserted that such tactics would not succeed in Kerala, implying that Modi is yet to understand this reality.

Dismissing the notion that Modi’s personal image would sway voters in Kerala, the CPI(M) politburo member said that the BJP has only managed to secure one seat in the Kerala Assembly way back in 2016.

According to Baby, any significant breakthrough for the BJP in Kerala would require cooperation from the Congress and the UDF, which he doubted would occur due to the risk of damaging their credibility.

“Therefore, the repeated visits by Modi would not pose a threat to the CPI(M) and its allies in Kerala,” he told PTI.

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‘Minorities concerned of safety’

Senior Congress leader Kodikkunnil Suresh reiterated the state’s resistance to the BJP, citing concerns among minorities about their safety under BJP rule.

“Let Modi come to Kerala many times; there will not be any change in the anti-BJP approach of the people of the state. Because the majority of voters align with the democratic-secular sections of society,” he said.

Suresh, one of the senior most members in the Lok Sabha, criticised Modi’s alleged inaction on issues like the Manipur violence, asserting that the BJP’s attempts to court the Christian community would falter due to apprehensions about right-wing groups.

“As Prime Minister, Modi has been criticised for failing to intervene and address the concerns of the people of Manipur. While past leaders have intervened to resolve conflicts in various parts of the country, Modi did not visit Manipur or acknowledge the issues faced by the minority community in the northeastern state,” he alleged.

Suresh expressed confidence that the BJP would struggle to secure minority votes, a crucial factor for electoral success in Kerala.

He claimed that the BJP’s electoral prospects in the Lok Sabha polls were slim, as the main contest remained between the Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF.

Modi held two large roadshows in Kerala last month, one in Thrissur and another in Kochi, highlighting the BJP’s focus on the opposition-dominated state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

During his visit to Thrissur in the first week of January, Modi attended a women’s convention organised by the BJP.

In mid-January, Modi visited Kerala, where he attended various events, including the wedding of actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi’s daughter at the famous Guruvayur Lord Krishna temple.

He also offered prayers at the Thriprayar Sree Rama Swami Temple in Thrissur district and addressed a party meeting of around 6,000 in-charges of ‘shakti kendras’ at Marine Drive in Kochi.

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