Kerala will go the Northeast, Goa way: PM Modi

Modi launches 'Mission Kerala' in Kochi, meets church leaders

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Prime Minister Narendra Modi took Kerala’s commercial capital Kochi by storm on Monday, quite literally, leading a mega roadshow and addressing a mammoth youth meet “Yuvam” — modifying Kerala.

The most significant part of his Kochi visit was the meeting with the heads of eight prominent Christian denominations. The meeting was held at Hotel Taj Malabar.

Prior to the meeting with the church leaders, Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the Yuvam youth meet, which was meant to be apolitical, made his political stand clear. “Whether it is the Northeast or Goa, people who may belong to any religion, caste or belief, those who have seen and experienced the BJP governments’ work and attitude, have wholeheartedly embraced the party,” he said.

Indirectly referring to the support expected from Christians, he said that in the days ahead, Kerala would also do what the Northeast had done and Goa has been doing repeatedly.

He called upon the youth to be vigilant against forces which divide people in the name of religion, caste, community, language and region. “We need to defeat such forces,” he said.

“I planted a sapling in S9cred Heart College to commemorate its platinum jubilee. This tree will become a symbol of our friendship and we will go forward walking hand in hand,” he said while emphasising the need for a closer tie-up with the Christian community in Kerala.

Modi attacked the bipolar politics in Kerala which he said was damaging the state. Without mentioning the LDF and the Congress-led UDF, he said while one ideology considers the party above everything in Kerala, the other party believes that a family is above everything. They are responsible for the growing unemployment and corruption, he said, adding: “I am sure people of Kerala will work hard to defeat these two forces.”

He attacked the CPI(M)-led LDF government, accusing it of depriving the state’s youth of jobs and career opportunities. “I am told they are not even organising job melas as is being done in BJP-ruled states,” he said.

Modi said while many are focusing on how to export traditional medicines from Kerala, some people are working hard for gold smuggling. “The truth is not hidden from the youth. They know how the people who are in power are playing with their future,” he said, while indirectly referring to the gold smuggling case involving officials of the Chief Minister’s Office.

The BJP-led NDA had polled 15.64 per cent votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, marking a rise of 2.78 percentage points. But their voteshare dropped to 11.03 in the Assembly elections in 2021 when the LDF created history by coming back to power.

Compared to the 2016 Assembly polls when the BJP secured 14.96 per cent votes with the help of the BDJS, a party dominated by a section of the powerful backward Ezhava community, the performance in 2021 was dismal.

The BJP hopes to do well in the 2024 polls on the strength of the “Modi magic” and Christian support. Christians constitute 18.38 per cent of the state’s 3.4 crore population. Kerala has the highest number of Christians in any state, hence the BJP is wooing the community with an eye on electoral gains.

The state’s Christian population is mainly concentrated in five districts in central Kerala: Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta. The Christian vote is crucial in at least 40 to 45 constituencies in these districts. Besides, there is a sizeable presence in some areas of Thrissur, parts of Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram districts.

It is in this backdrop that the BJP has been constantly trying to woo Christians in Kerala. In the run-up to the meeting, the state BJP leaders had visited the bishops as part of “Sneha Sandesham” on the occasion of Easter.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi was seen with a lot of hope by Christians, especially in the backdrop of protests in the national capital against the attacks on churches and institutions in some states.

The BJP also has another agenda: to ensure a drop in the number of seats of the Congress-led UDF. It may be recalled the UDF had won 19 of 20 seats in Kerala in 2019, including Rahul Gandhi’s former Wayanad constituency.

The BJP believes that if the Congress manages to repeat its 2019 results, it would give a big boost to Rahul Gandhi.

Traditionally, the Christians in Kerala have voted for the Congress-led UDF. Hence, any dent in the Christian vote will harm the Congress more than any other party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a massive roadshow from Venduruthy Bridge to the Sacred Heart College ground Thevara, where he addressed the “Yuvam” youth meet. All through the 1.8 km stretch, the PM was showered with flowers. Hundreds of people, including women and children, lined up along the road to greet the Prime Minister, who was wearing a traditional Kerala mundu (dhoti), juba (kurta) and angavastram.

A section of personalities from the Malayalam film industry, including former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi, Unni Mukundan, national award-winner Aparna Balamurali, playback singers Vijay Yesudas, Hari Shankar and actor Navya Nair were present on the dais at the “Yuvam” meet.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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