‘Zero and zero’, says Tharoor on Modi’s dream of BJP winning in double digits in Kerala

The BJP does not understand Kerala, its culture, or its history, and communalism in the state can't go beyond a certain limit. The BJP has hit that limit, said the Thiruvananthapuram MP.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 29, 2024 | 8:25 AMUpdatedFeb 29, 2024 | 8:25 AM

Shashi Tharoor with the students of Peet Memorial Teachers’ Training College in Mavelikkara on Wednesday. (X)

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed hope that the people of Kerala would bless the BJP with double-digit figures — referring to the Lok Sabha seats where it would emerge victorious —  Thiruvananthapuram MP and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the only way for the saffron party to achieve Modi’s dream was by winning two zeroes.

The BJP had not won even a single seat in Parliament elections in Kerala, though it had succeeded in winning the Nemom Assembly constituency once, riding on the popularity of the candidate, O Rajagopal, in 2016. However, in 2021 Assembly elections, the BJP lost even its lone seat, when the party’s Kummana Rajasekharan conceded defeat to CPI(M)’s V Sivankutty.

“Otherwise, there is only one digit coming the BJP’s way in Kerala, and that is zero,” Tharoor told media persons in Thiruvananthapuram after inaugurating a photo exhibition as part of the culmination of the state-wide yatra organised by KPCC president K Sudhakaran and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly VD Satheesan.

During his speech at the BJP meeting in the state capital on Tuesday, Modi urged the people of Kerala to bless the saffron party with seats in double digits in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Tharoor further explained why the BJP would come a cropper. “It does not understand Kerala, its culture, or its history,” he said.

“We have had more than 2,000 years of living together. Our relationship with each other is one of welcome and acceptance,” Tharoor said.

Also Read: Official work, temple visits and roadshows: Modi’s southern push in TN and Kerala

The spirit of co-existence 

He said Judaism came to Kerala 500 years before the birth of Christ, and with the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians, they were welcomed.


The Jewish synagogue at Mattancherry

“Today, Jews tell me this is the only Jewish Diaspora that never knew a single instance of anti-Semitic persecution in the world. Similarly, Christianity came with St Thomas, St Thomas of the apostles, it was again welcomed and spread,” Tharoor said, while detailing the secular fabric that has been holding Kerala together.

“Then we had Islam coming, not by the sword. You see, the problem in the North is that they think their history is the only history. We have traders from the Arab world coming to Kerala centuries before the Prophet, and they brought the message of the Prophet as news from their peninsula,” the Congress Working Committee (CWC) member said.

Recalling the history of peaceful co-existence in Kerala, Tharoor said that when the Muslim community was large enough to want a place of worship, the king gave them an old temple.

“Now we’re not going to have a situation where some Hindu movement comes and says this used to be a temple and we want to knock down the mosque, we won’t tolerate it, and that’s not the way we behave. So I just want to say that, as far as Kerala is concerned, communalism cannot go beyond a very small limit,” Tharoor said.

He said that the BJP in Kerala had reached that limit.

Related: PM Modi looks to transform daughter’s marriage into launchpad of father Suresh Gopi’s Kerala campaign

Credit to Modi

“In the two successive elections, their vote was between 12 and 13 percent. I’ll give Mr. Modi the credit that they went up from a 6 percent party to a 12 -13 percent party under him, but I think that’s it; the ceiling has been reached,” Tharoor said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi for Easter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi for Easter. (Twitter)

He said the BJP tried to reach out to the Christian community in Kerala, “but after the horrors in Manipur, there is very little receptibility to their approach”.

“So I can assure you that, as far as the people of Kerala are concerned, the BJP is not likely to win any seats in the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala. And as I said, the two digits, Mr Modi, are going to be seen as zero and zero,” Tharoor added.

About his possible candidature from the Thiruvananthapuram Parliamentary constituency, Tharoor said the Congress is yet to announce the candidates, and he has never said that he is not contesting.

“I’m doing my work as a sitting MP. I have responsibilities to my constituents, and I’m fulfilling those,” Tharoor added.

With regard to the developments in Himachal Pradesh, Tharoor said he is not informed about the latest developments.

He said it was “really a very disappointing development in democracy” that a government elected less than a year ago with a clear majority can be “subverted in this way by undemocratic means,” Tharoor said.

He said the country knows that the BJP is well funded, but this amounts to disgraceful misuse of both the money and the muscle power that the Central Government has.

Tharoor said he could not comment anything more by just reading the news headlines, but said it was highly unfortunate.

“I think that it is a betrayal of the people’s mandate,” Tharoor said, and alleged that a similar modus operandi was adopted by the BJP in Goa, Madhya Pradesh, and elsewhere.