Sunday, 04 April 2021 | PNS
Kerala Assembly elections for 140 seats are due on April 6. If the ongoing West Bengal elections grabbed all the eyeballs, Kerala with 54.7 per cent Hindus, 26.6 per cent Muslims and 18.4 per cent Christians is the big challenge for the BJP to come to power. From Sabarimala sentiments to the entry of Metro man E Sreedharan, Kerala has seen changes. In an exclusive conversation with The Pioneer’s Principal Correspondent Sapna Singh, Member of Parliament from New Delhi constituency, Meenakshi Lekhi, who is in Kerala for the election campaign, spoke on various issues.
How difficult is for the BJP to contest Assembly elections in Kerala, with the Left dominating in the State? Do you think Sabarimala sentiments will work to attract voters?
We are not using Sabarimala for any kind of electoral gains. On the other hand, Congress was away from agitation, they are now using Sabarimala for their political gain. BJP is always with Ayyappa devotees and will go to any extent to protect the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees and it has got to do nothing with the polls. Coming to the other question of winning the election in the left dominating area, BJP is increasing its footprints in Kerala. If you look into the past couple of elections, we can easily notice that BJP’s vote-share is increasing slowly and steadily. The trend from other previously Left dominated States such as West Bengal, Tripura will definitely extend to Kerala soon. It’s only a matter of time for the last nail in the coffin.
The State will soon see a triangular fight between UDF, LDF and the BJP. There is a slogan in Kerala —vote on development not politics! How much challenging will it be for BJP to convey locals about Central Government funded projects there —be it road infra or gas pipeline project, instance — Kochi to Mangalore when current Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ensured doorstep ration delivery campaign during corona times.
Most of the projects implemented by LDF Govt are initiated by the Central Govt. The LDF Government is just renaming them. The project allocation fund for Kerala has significantly increased during the PM Narendra Modi Govt. Alappuzha bypass is the biggest example which is indicative of the fact that gestation period for completion of any infrastructure project is at least 40 years. Central Government has sponsored many projects from smart cities to water management projects.
It is being said, if the BJP fares even marginally, it may cut Congress and the Left votes. Assembly election is a golden opportunity for the BJP to escalate their vote share from 10-15 per cent to at least 20-25%, what is the party’s strategy?
Historically BJP is increasing vote share with every election and on the other side the vote share of communists and Congress is declining elections after elections. In line with that trend, BJP will definitely increase its vote share in the Assembly elections.
In 2016, the BJP opened its account. This time around, there are a few key constituencies like Konni and Malampuzha, where they hope to register victories. Do you think that Kerala’s politics are on the cusp of change?
Until the 2016 election, there was a perception that BJP couldn’t open its account in Kerala Assembly. In fact, such misconception was propagated by communists and Congress. Much before, there were many chances for BJP to open the account in Assembly. Perhaps, in such situations, the unholy nexus of Congress and communists worked together with the support of Jihadis to ensure defeat of the BJP candidates. They used a cross-vote methodology to ensure the defeat of BJP candidates, thereby cheating people’s mandate. One of the best example for that was the defeat of current BJP State president K Surendran in Manjeswaram assembly constituency in 2016 election. He lost the election for just 87 votes and if we analyse the election result and voting pattern, we could easily understand as to how the unholy nexus ensured defeat of the BJP.
There is a wave of Pinarayi factor in Kerala, how BJP’s central leadership plays a crucial role when Pinarayi claims ‘Co-Le-B’ alliance is unholy?
There is no such wave of Pinarayi factor. We have witnessed the same during the last Lok Sabha polls and representation of Kerala communists in Indian parliament has been reduced to just one. In reality, ‘Co-Ca-Ji’ unholy alliance has always been in existence to defeat BJP and also common purpose and interests like corrupt practices . Behind the scenes, the unholy nexus of Communist and Congress enjoys the support of Jihadi elements. Congress and Communists are blatantly having public alliances across the country except Kerala. Comrade Sitaram Yechuri is campaigning for Congress candidates and vice versa in all other states in India except Kerala. Same Yechuri and his team are reaching Kerala and criticising Congress. Their ‘Co-Ca-Ji’ unholy nexus has fielded candidates in line with their appeasement politics , where BJP has high chances of winnability.
This time around, there seems to be a pro-BJP sentiment among the Christian community and Church-based voters, how this may alter the political equations.
Kerala church and their communities are really worried about their daughters. The cases of Love Jihad are cumulative in Kerala daily and many victims are from those communities. Many incidents of young girls were transported to Syria reported from Kerala. Also missing cases of girls from the state are not resolved yet. This is over and above the fact that members from the two communities share identical nationalistic vision.
In Tripunithura, Sabarimala takes centre stage, will this help BJP?
Sabarimala sentiments will be definitely reflected in forthcoming polls across the state, not only in Tripunithura. Millions of devotees across the state are waiting to give an apt reply to communists and others, who tried to hurt their sentiments. We will witness the defeat of scores of candidates whoever was in forefront to attack the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees.
Metro man E Sreedharan recently filed his nomination papers as a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate in the Palakkad assembly constituency of Kerala. Visits of Central leaders are frequently ahead of elections be it Indian National Congress’s Rahul Gandhi or Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman, as PM Modi is BJP’s face, do you think Sreedharan’s candidature will make a difference or BJP will project him as Chief Minister face for the state.
BJP never highlighted him as CM candidate for Kerala but we always highlight him as ‘an icon of development’. His entry has elevated the position party in the state. CM always gets decided after MLAs choose someone as one so the possibility of him being the CM is as much a possibility as any other MLA from BJP.