BJP is all bent on Southern conquest

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The BJP is using all its national leaders in campaigns and trying out different ploys to make some electoral gains in the south but it is to be seen how far the efforts can succeed in translating punchlines into votes. The BJP, in its efforts to make electoral inroads in Kerala, and the ruling Left alliance, standing firm in its strongholds, have intensified their long-drawn rivalry, turning the southern state into a theatre of war of words, long yatras and frequent political murders.

bjp in KeralaInterestingly, leaders of both parties are increasingly using social media platforms to broadcast their accusations and responses. While senior national leaders of the BJP have said that Kerala is being governed by goons, the CPM, the leading party of the ruling alliance, Left Democratic Front, have minced no words in saying that the BJP is trying to polarise the state by stoking communal flames.

Trying to gain political mileage out of the political violence in the northern part of the state, BJP has raised slogans like ‘Against jihad-red terror’, trying to kill two birds with one stone. Their battle is drawn on two fronts — the right-wing Islamists, who they accuse are into full-blown conversion drive, and the CPM for their violent ways.

That the entire national leadership of the party, including UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, had come down to Kerala to add muscle and masala to its rally, Jana Raksha Yatra, shows how desperately the BJP wants to ‘conquer south’.

The party seems to be focusing on the alleged political killings by the CPM, calling it ‘annihilation of political rivals’. BJP President Amit Shah had hit out at the LDF, while taking part in the conclusion of the 15-day yatra, asking Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take ‘moral responsibility’ for the killing of 13 RSS/BJP workers since the LDF came to power. Yogi Adityanath, pitch-forked to whip up public support, took a swipe at Kerala’s health facilities, saying the State should learn from UP how to deal with vector-borne diseases, referring to over 100 people dying of dengue fever.

While some BJP leaders are taking on the ‘red threat’, others focus on the ‘jihadi threat’. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that Kerala has become a place for jihadis under the LDF government.

Referring to a media sting on Popular Front of India, a Kerala-based Islamist party, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded investigations into the alleged ‘love jihad’. Prasad even said that the leaders of ‘love jihad’ should be treated more severely than the Hurriyat leaders, who are being probed by the National Investigative Agency for
alleged terror funding.

The LDF response

Chief Minister Vijayan does not let go of any chance to have a go at the BJP’s national leadership for their “ill-informed” allegations and lies about Kerala.

He said it has “amused” him that Yogi Adityanath found time for Kerala despite “problems” in his own land. “The infant mortality rate in Kerala is 10 while the national average is 34 and in Uttar Pradesh, it is 43,” the chief minister wrote in his Facebook page.

The Kerala chief minister has attacked the BJP leaders, and singled out Amit Shah. “I hope that Amit Shah would understand how the people of Kerala view undesirable political gimmicks from the BJP. I congratulate the people who have given a non-provocative send off to the Jana Raksh Yaatra which was taken out, with huge media accompanying them and with challenges and provocations of hate politics. The people of the state ignored the speeches which called for killing and false propaganda and slogans,” he wrote in his FB post.

In the meantime, CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also used his FB page to have a go at the BJP leadership, blaming them for creating unrest in the State politics. “BJP national leaders have made derogatory statements about Kerala. RSS workers who want to gouge CPI (M) workers eyes out should understand this is Kerala,” he wrote.

“Though BJP said Jan Raksh Yatra is to protest against CPI (M) killings, in effect they are encouraging violence by their own party workers. RSS should have an answer for all the political killings in Kerala, not Pinarayi Vijayan. Most violence is inflicted by RSS in Kerala.”

Shifting gears in Tamil Nadu

The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to DMK leader M Karunanidhi shows that BJP is looking beyond AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. The party has played a behind-the- scenes role in the merger of the two factions in the AIADMK, following Jayalalithaa’s death but Modi’s visit to Karunanidhi says more about the party’s plans in the State, which is to prevent Congress from making any gains in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

According a party source, “In Tamil Nadu, the political situation has changed and the AIADMK has spoilt its own prospects. The BJP does not want its adversaries to grow by benefiting from it. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress cannot go on its own but the DMK can strengthen it. Why should the BJP allow that?”

The recent IT raids at the properties of AIADMK leaders should also be seen with some degree of political significance, especially in the light of Modi’s visit to Karunanidhi.

Miles to go

The BJP is using all its national leaders in campaigns and trying out different ploys to make some electoral gains in the south but it is to be seen how far the efforts can succeed in translating punchlines into votes. The BJP, in its efforts to make electoral inroads in Kerala, and the ruling Left alliance, standing firm in its strongholds, have intensified their long-drawn rivalry, turning the southern state into a theatre of war of words, long yatras and frequent political murders.

Interestingly, leaders of both parties are increasingly using social media platforms to broadcast their accusations and responses. While senior national leaders of the BJP have said that Kerala is being governed by goons, the CPM, the leading party of the ruling alliance, Left Democratic Front, have minced no words in saying that the BJP is trying to polarise the state by stoking communal flames.

Trying to gain political mileage out of the political violence in the northern part of the state, BJP has raised slogans like ‘Against jihad-red terror’, trying to kill two birds with one stone. Their battle is drawn on two fronts — the right-wing Islamists, who they accuse are into full-blown conversion drive, and the CPM for their violent ways.

That the entire national leadership of the party, including UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, had come down to Kerala to add muscle and masala to its rally, Jana Raksha Yatra, shows how desperately the BJP wants to ‘conquer south’.

The party seems to be focusing on the alleged political killings by the CPM, calling it ‘annihilation of political rivals’. BJP President Amit Shah had hit out at the LDF, while taking part in the conclusion of the 15-day yatra, asking Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take ‘moral responsibility’ for the killing of 13 RSS/BJP workers since the LDF came to power. Yogi Adityanath, pitch-forked to whip up public support, took a swipe at Kerala’s health facilities, saying the State should learn from UP how to deal with vector-borne diseases, referring to over 100 people dying of dengue fever.

While some BJP leaders are taking on the ‘red threat’, others focus on the ‘jihadi threat’. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that Kerala has become a place for jihadis under the LDF government.

Referring to a media sting on Popular Front of India, a Kerala-based Islamist party, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded investigations into the alleged ‘love jihad’. Prasad even said that the leaders of ‘love jihad’ should be treated more severely than the Hurriyat leaders, who are being probed by the National Investigative Agency for
alleged terror funding.

The LDF response

Chief Minister Vijayan does not let go of any chance to have a go at the BJP’s national leadership for their “ill-informed” allegations and lies about Kerala.

He said it has “amused” him that Yogi Adityanath found time for Kerala despite “problems” in his own land. “The infant mortality rate in Kerala is 10 while the national average is 34 and in Uttar Pradesh, it is 43,” the chief minister wrote in his Facebook page.

The Kerala chief minister has attacked the BJP leaders, and singled out Amit Shah. “I hope that Amit Shah would understand how the people of Kerala view undesirable political gimmicks from the BJP. I congratulate the people who have given a non-provocative send off to the Jana Raksh Yaatra which was taken out, with huge media accompanying them and with challenges and provocations of hate politics. The people of the state ignored the speeches which called for killing and false propaganda and slogans,” he wrote in his FB post.

In the meantime, CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also used his FB page to have a go at the BJP leadership, blaming them for creating unrest in the State politics. “BJP national leaders have made derogatory statements about Kerala. RSS workers who want to gouge CPI (M) workers eyes out should understand this is Kerala,” he wrote.

“Though BJP said Jan Raksh Yatra is to protest against CPI (M) killings, in effect they are encouraging violence by their own party workers. RSS should have an answer for all the political killings in Kerala, not Pinarayi Vijayan. Most violence is inflicted by RSS in Kerala.”

Shifting gears in Tamil Nadu

The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to DMK leader M Karunanidhi shows that BJP is looking beyond AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. The party has played a behind-the- scenes role in the merger of the two factions in the AIADMK, following Jayalalithaa’s death but Modi’s visit to Karunanidhi says more about the party’s plans in the State, which is to prevent Congress from making any gains in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

According a party source, “In Tamil Nadu, the political situation has changed and the AIADMK has spoilt its own prospects. The BJP does not want its adversaries to grow by benefiting from it. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress cannot go on its own but the DMK can strengthen it. Why should the BJP allow that?”

The recent IT raids at the properties of AIADMK leaders should also be seen with some degree of political significance, especially in the light of Modi’s visit to Karunanidhi.

Miles to go

It is clear that the BJP, which won just one seat in the last Kerala Assembly election after years of electoral defeats, is bent on making an impact in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. The party has set its agenda to conquer south with Kerala and Tamil Nadu in focus in order to make up for the possible losses in the Hindi heartland. However, the response to the extensive ‘Vistarak’ (expansion) drive proves that it has miles go. Results of the Shah-led ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Karya Vistar Yojana’ presented during the recent party conclave show that the party has not been able to achieve its targeted number of full-timers to work in the constituencies of these states.

For the 1,109 constituencies in West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the party could rope in just 470 full-timers, to work dedicatedly for six months to one year.

In Karnataka, which goes to polls early next year and where the BJP is considered to have a strong organisational base, the party got only 51 full-timers for the 224 Assembly constituencies. In Andhra Pradesh, which has 175 constituencies, the party got only 16 full-timers for a year, and two for six months. For Telangana, (119 constituencies), the figure is 91; in Kerala (140 constituencies), which is considered a prestige battleground for Shah and the RSS, the party roped in just 31 full-timers for one year, and 10 for six months. For the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the party got 108 full-timers for one year, but data says the party requires 84 more. Shah has been touring these southern States to balance any possible electoral setback in the north and western States.

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