THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP national general secretary in-charge of Kerala, P. Muralidhar Rao has opined that the Congress is on the decline by pointing to states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh where the party has failed to resurrect itself while expressing confidence in taking on the LDF in the state. Excerpts from an interview.
Do you think BJP state president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai and key ally, BDJS president Tushar Vella-pally will contest the LS elections from Pathanamthitta and Thrissur?
It is not fair to reveal our strategy before the candidate and poll campaign have kicked off. This is under the exclusive domain of the central leadership. The BDJS is an important ally and we all want to see Tushar contesting. One thing I can definitely say, Kerala is a very important state for BJP in terms of political significance. The fight against the LDF continuously and particularly in the last three to four years is making the BJP the only other alternative force. In the coming years, the BJP is going to be a formidable force in Kerala where the groundwork is on.
So you mean to say that the Congress is not at all a threat?
Congress is slowly declining and it has already disappeared from Tamil Nadu. For the last five decades, it has not been able to revive in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. So once they lose, then its permanent. The Congress decline at the national level is becoming a permanent fixture. The Congress has become a family party forum where Rahul Gandhi has emerged as the family head and Sonia Gandhi is now the spiritual head.
Q: Is Sabarimala goi-ng to be a major campaign weapon?
A: I think the CEO has understood his limits. We will discuss on Lord Ayyappa from a legal and political perspective and not in a religious one. Our main campaign is going to be the development agenda put forth by the Modi government in the last five years. An individual cannot decide if Sabarimala issue would be taken up as the main campaign weapon as it is the party leadership which has to take a conclusive decision.
With the return of Kummanam Rajasekharan, Thiruvananthapuram LS seat is expected to witness the mother of all battles. Do you anticipate a tough triangular battle?
Kummanam is a fighter. He has often been seen as a crusader and also has got a long track record of political mobilisation. Even before he joined the BJP, he was fighting for many causes. His decision to step down as Governor only further increased his stakes. People felt that Kummanam had left Mizoram to fight here. But for him to sacrifice a gubernatorial role where he could have enjoyed life was just secondary. Instead, Kummanam decided to lead a political fight, targeting Kerala’s nationalist movement which he considers as, much more important. Now in Thiruvananthapuram, Kummanam is emerging as a rallying point. He is able to transcend all others and the floating voters are also attracted. They are curious to know, ‘Who’s this person’? But we are not definitely going to target Thiruvananthap-uram Lok Sabha seat alone as we will fight in as many constituencies as possible. Once we declare the candidate within two to three days, you will realise what I mean.
Over the last few days, there has been a deliberate attempt by Rahul Gandhi to tone down his words against Modi. What is your take on this?
The Opposition has never been able to come out with any agenda against the BJP government. Opposition Leader is also not acceptable to others in the Mahagathbandhan. Mamata Banerjee has said ‘No’, Naveen Patnaik has never accepted him as do Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. So the majority of the leaders have not accepted Mr Gandhi. They lack agenda, other than fighting against Modiji. At the same time, there is no consensus on real candidates and who will contest from where.
Narendra Modi had come under flak from various quarters on the Pulwama terrorist attack and the retaliation air strike at Bundelkhand....(not allowing the question to be completed)
Pulwama incident has given the right picture of BJP. As a strong nationalist party where India is in danger, India is attacked or when India is challenged, BJP leadership has been capable of responding. When you fight against terrorism, you can never say that terrorists will not be able to strike against it. In the Pulwama attack, our response has been swift, be it at the defence or at the diplomatic levels. Not a single country had come forward to defend Pakistan over the Pulwama attack. We could achieve this only through pro-active approach. Our political leadership has given mandate to the defence forces to do anything. So now there is a message going all over the world that India will not keep quiet in its fight against terrorism which the Pakistan Government has also come to know. he Congress president will fly to Periya in Kasaragod and visit the family members of Kripesh and Sarath Lal at 3.25 pm who were killed by the CPM workers. By 5 pm. he will reach Kozhikode beach and inaugurate the Jana Maha Rally that would be officially launching the party campaign.
“Earlier, it was reported that candidates from all the six northern districts would be announced before voters. But now only K. Sudhakaran’s candidature is sure. There are half a dozen aspirants for Kasaragod, Kannur, Alat-hur, Palakkad and Thr-issur,” said a senior Congress MLA....