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Politics
10 Jun 2017

2019 Elections: What should BJP strategy be for Mission Kerala?

BJP President Amit Shah recently visited Kerala, attempting to woo voters and review the party's preparations ahead of the 2019 polls.

He reached out to Christian religious leaders to form workable alliances.

BJP looks at Kerala as the ultimate conquest, since it is the only state where it has failed to make a significant electoral footprint so far.

What should be BJP's strategy?

In context

BJP's prospects in Kerala

BJP's golden period

Asking the BJP cadre to not be complacent with victories in states including UP and Uttarakhand, Shah noted, the party's golden period would begin when it forms governments in the states of Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura and Telangana.

What has BJP done in Kerala so far?

Activities

What has BJP done in Kerala so far?

After securing no victories in the 2014 General elections, BJP opened its account in the state winning a single seat during the 2016 assembly elections.

Ahead of the 2016 state elections, BJP brought Ezhava leader Vellapally Natesan and adivasi leader C K Janu into the NDA's fold, to no avail.

BJP National Council Meeting 2016 was also convened in Kerala to showcase strength.

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Christian alliance

The new strategy

Shah met with four Cardinals and two Bishops, seeking to ally with the Church in order to woo Christian voters who amount up to 18.4% of Kerala's population.

The strategy here is to eventually bring in veteran leader K M Mani, who has enormous hold within the Church.

Shah has also started attacking the ruling CPI (M) government for violence against BJP workers.

Feasibilty

Is a BJP-Christian alliance feasible?

Christians in Kerala have traditionally supported the Congress Party or factions of the Congress Party.

Naturally, they view BJP's Hindutva agenda with suspicion and still harbour bitterness from Hindutva outfits' violent attacks against Christian missionaries in different parts of India.

A community that loves its beef fry, Christians along with the rest of Kerala are also angry at the beef-ban.

Writer's take

What should BJP do different in Kerala?

BJP's victories since 2014 can largely be attributed to a large Hindu vote bank, which it appeals to because of its image as a Hindu, pro-development party.

However, the same formula will not work in Kerala, a state far less religiously polarized compared to Maharashtra or UP.

Getting liberals and minorities on board with a secular pitch could be BJP's way into Kerala.

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