New Delhi | BJP leader Prakash Javadekar has claimed that his party will end Kerala's bipolar politics in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls by winning at least five seats as, unlike the 2019 elections, people in the state realise that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi cannot become prime minister.
"If in 2019 you asked any Keralite; Hindus, Christians, Muslims, he would have told you Rahul Gandhi will become prime minister. They had their own discourse and belief. Now ask anybody in Kerala; Hindus, Muslims, Christians, he will tell you PM Modi is coming back for a third time," the BJP's election in-charge of the state told PTI in an interview.
The former Union minister said his party's concerted outreach to Christians will result in a sizeable section of them voting for it in the Lok Sabha polls, expected to be held in April-May.
Asked how things are different for the BJP from 2019 when its alliance got around 15 per cent votes and no seat, he said everybody now realises that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will retain power and that his government's work is visible in the state.
People also know that Gandhi cannot become prime minister, he said, adding voters realise that they voted for the Congress in 2019 but it was routed everywhere else across the country.
The Congress-led UDF had swept the southern state in 2019 by winning 19 of its 20 Lok Sabha seats, with Gandhi's decision to contest from Wayanad galvanising the alliance. Though Gandhi won from there, he lost from his family's pocket borough Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
This bipolar politics centred around the UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF, which is in power in the state, will end this time and the BJP will win at least five seats this time, he said.
Javadekar was in Wayanad on January 22 to oversee the BJP's exercise to connect with people through the live broadcast of the Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya.
In a swipe at Gandhi, he said while the Congress, rejected the invite for the event, thousands of voters in over 140 places in Wayanad district watched the 'Pran Pratishtha' live.
Speaking of the BJP's outreach to Christians, he said party workers visited over five lakh Christian homes during Christmas to greet them and have been receiving good feedback.
There have been deliberate attempts to malign the BJP in the community over the Manipur violence involving Meiteis and Kukis, Javadekar said.
It may be noted that while Meiteis are mostly Hindus, Kukis are overwhelmingly Christians.
The BJP, he added, has been able to convince the community that the violence has nothing to do with religion but is an outcome of old ethnic rivalry between the two communities.
Afterall Nagas are Christians and live on the hills in Manipur but they have not been targeted or involved in violence, he said, expressing confidence that the BJP will receive support from a sizeable section of Christians in Kerala.
The Centre's action against the PFI, an Islamist organisation banned by the government, has also been appreciated by people of Kerala, he said.
The Modi government through its various schemes has reached out to everyone in the state, Javadekar said.
Over 1.5 crore people have been receiving free ration while nearly 40 lakh farmers have benefitted from direct benefit transfer under 'Kisan Samman Nidhi', he said, adding that 54 lakh people, especially women, have benefited from 'Mudra' loans.
Ongoing highway projects will further boost tourism and employment opportunities in Kerala, he said, criticising the successive CPI(M)-led LDF and UDF governments in the state for lack of industrialisation which has forced its youths to go to other states and countries for jobs.
Referring to the BJP's campaign in the state around "Nanni Modi" (thank you Modi) to leverage the prime minister's appeal, he said the party has been asking people to not merely thank him for his government's work but also vote for him in the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP's concerted efforts to emerge as a potent force in the state by breaking the Congress and Left duopoly have not met much success in previous polls even though its share of votes has been sizeable at times. It is hopeful of making a headway this time.