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After Hyderabad, BJP targets Kerala local body polls, fields Muslims and Christians 

BJP has fielded 612 minority candidates — 112 Muslims to counter the LDF and UDF Muslim base and 500 Christians in a bid to consolidate the Hindus and Christians.

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New Delhi: After a high-voltage campaign for the Hyderabad municipal elections, for which it deployed big guns such as Home Minister Amit Shah and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the BJP is now looking to make inroads in Kerala, where three-tier local body polls are to be held on 8 and 14 December.

The BJP hopes to make it a triangular contest against the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The party is aiming to capture at least two of the six municipal corporations in the state.

Unlike in other states, however, the BJP has fielded 612 minority candidates — 112 Muslims to counter the LDF and UDF Muslim base and 500 Christians in a bid to consolidate the Hindus and Christians. The party has fielded its Muslim candidates in Malappuram, where the community’s population exceeds 40 per cent.

With 50 per cent of the seats reserved for women, the BJP has fielded 10,000 women candidates for the panchayat, block panchayat & district panchayat polls.

“Christians are not untouchable to the BJP,” the party’s state president K. Surendran told ThePrint. “People have seen our governments in the Christian state of Goa and in the Northeast. We have many Christian leaders and the RSS’s Christian outreach has had the desirable effect in central Kerala.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Triple Talaq efforts have had a huge impact on Muslim women in Kerala,” he added. “A significant point of these local bodies polls is the participation of a huge number of women candidates.”


Also read: 39 Covid cases in Sabarimala since pilgrim season began last week, temple to ramp up testing


High stakes election

The BJP is making every effort to ensure big gains in the local body polls, hoping they will set the tone for the 2021 assembly elections in the state.

The party is hoping to capture at least two municipal corporations — in Trivandrum and Thrissur. In the 2015 local body elections, the party had managed to win the Palakkad municipality. It had an overall vote-share of 13.28 per cent.

“Last time we were in a single municipality. This time we are hoping to win more than three municipal bodies and become the single largest in two to three districts,” Surendran said. “We are continuously growing. In the last Lok Sabha polls our vote share was 16 per cent vote. In the assembly election, we are hoping to make more inroads in the state.”

In the 2016 assembly elections, the BJP won just one seat in the 140-member assembly. It’s vote-share, however, has risen by over 8 per cent (from 2011) to 14.96 per cent in the elections.

Assembly roadmap

The BJP is continuously making efforts to dent the Christian vote in the state. Christians make up 17 per cent of Kerala’s population.

In these elections, the BJP is playing up the so-called ‘love jihad’ issue. “Love jihad is a big issue in Kerala. The Syro Malabar Church had in January raised concern on the rising cases of love jihad in the state,” BJP general secretary George Kurian told ThePrint. “We have been repeatedly saying we need to stop ‘love jihad’ in the country, which the church has ratified.”

The BJP strategy is to focus on Christian-Hindu consolidation and alienate the Muslim vote. The BJP has fielded more Christians at Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam districts.

The BJP is hoping a good showing here will help it get 20 seats in the assembly election due in five months.

“Last time (assembly polls), there were 20 seats where we got 40,000 votes,” Kurian said. “We are concentrating on those 20 seats. This time there will be a hung assembly in the state. There is huge anti-incumbency against the LDF. In the Lok Sabha elections, polarisation helped the Congress. This will not happen in the assembly elections.”

10,000 women candidates, many first timers

With 50 per cent reservation in local body polls for women, the BJP has fielded about 10,000 candidates.

“During the Kerala flood and the migrant crisis, the work of Kudumbashree women workers was widely lauded,” Surendran said. “The younger generation has now seen the importance of local governance. They are taking part in the elections. This is a very good sign for the future.”


Also read: BJP inroads clear in Tamil Nadu but Amit Shah’s ‘Midas touch’ faces tough test in 2021


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. One might not agrre with the ideology of bjp but i am in love with theor energy to win election mThey r extremely loyal and dedicated to their party victory may be it hyderabad kerala tn or assam hemanta bishwa sharma is playing his all cards in assam to make bjp invinsible .Congress did immense mistake by insulting person like him .He brought bjp to gov from no where in entire northeast .I use to thik Prashant kishor as a ultimate mastermind but bjp has its staff working for 24 and 7 to make winning election strategy .How kcr planned ghmc election to defeat bjp but bjp gave everything it can .

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