Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi | Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Kerala on Monday for a two-day visit during which he will be attending several programmes, including the flagging off of theYouth programme, meeting with church leaders on PM's calendar for two-day Kerala visit Vande Bharat Express train here, a meeting with senior priests of the Christian community and a youth event.
The BJP in Kerala is aiming to use the PM's visit as a springboard for its outreach campaign aimed at bringing youth and minorities into its fold.
On Monday, after a road show in the port city of Kochi, the PM would be attending a youth programme -- Yuvam 2023 -- therYouth programme, meeting with church leaders on PM's calendar for two-day Kerala visite, which the BJP hopes would be a game changer in Kerala politics.
However, the most politically significant event would be the Prime Minister's meeting with the church leaders in the evening at Kochi.
The meeting comes in the wake of the saffron party's outreach campaign -- Sneha Yatra -- as part of which leaders of the BJP in Kerala visited Christian and Muslim leaders and the homes of people of these minority communities on the festive occasions of Easter andYouth programme, meeting with church leaders on PM's calendar for two-day Kerala visit Eid, respectively.
According to the BJP, the outreach campaign has received a favourable response as several members from the Christian community joined the party recently and more were allegedly flocking to join it even before the PM's visit.
Once the PM arrives, the numbers will increase, BJP state president K Surendran has said.
BJP's outreach campaign recently received a shot in the arm when a senior Bishop -- Thalassery Archbishop Mar Joseph Pamplany -- of the influential Syro-Malabar Catholic Church said that if the Centre promised to increase the rate of rubber procurement to Rs 300 per kilogram, the party's dearth of an MP from the southern state would be addressed.
Subsequently, the visits to Christian priests by BJP leaders increased in number.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that it was not the first time that church leaders were meeting the PM. While speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, he said that after Modi became PM in 2015, many church leaders had met him in Kochi when he arrived in the state to go to Thrissur.
Muraleedharan said he believed the church leaders were meeting the PM because of the "love and respect they had for Modi" and they had not said it had anything to do with votes.
"It is the Congress which is saying it is for votes. Congress is only concerned with votes and not welfare of the people, so they only see votes in everything," he contended.
He also lashed out at the ruling Left government in Kerala for its "silence" and alleged "lack of action" against concerned officials for the leak of an intelligence report regarding the security measures in place for the PM's visit.
"That was a serious breach of security, but the state government has been silent on the issue for the last 24 hours. It indicates that the Home Department is functioning without anyone at the helm," Muraleedharan said.
He said that if the state government was serious about preventing such lapses in future, it would have taken action against the official concerned in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Commissioner K Sethu Raman said 2,060 police personnel had been deployed in Kochi city as part of the security arrangements for the Prime Minister's visit. He also said that around 20,000 participants were expected to take part in the PM's road show.
Similar stringent security arrangements have been put in place in Thiruvananthapuram also, police said.
On Tuesday, the PM would be flagging off the much-awaited Vande Bharat Express train from Thiruvananthapuram, with the BJP giving the event a lot of publicity.
The BJP in Kerala has drawn parallels between Vande Bharat and the state government's allegedly shelved SilverLine project and have claimed that while the Pinarayi Vijayan government tried to bring development by evicting thousands of people, the Modi government was doing it without causing difficulty to anyone.