Prime Minister Modi’s Increased Trips to Kerala Spur Political Enthusiasm Before the Lok Sabha Elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Kerala for the third time in less than two months in an attempt to fulfill his goal of breaking the BJP’s electoral drought in the southern state, where the party has traditionally had difficulty winning elections. This visit comes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Modi revealed his party’s ambition to take control of Kerala over a year ago.

The declaration was made on March 2, 2023, after the BJP’s impressive showing in the elections held in the states with a Christian majority, Nagaland and Meghalaya, which increased the party’s confidence.

Party sources said that Modi will go to the state capital of Kerala on Tuesday for an official program. During his visit, he is expected to take part in the “padayatra’s” closing ceremony, which is being hosted by the state branch of the BJP.

The CPI(M) and the Congress claim that the lotus will not bloom in the murky political waters of the southern state, while the state BJP is thrilled about the Prime Minister’s back-to-back trips to Kerala. The party is fully relying on Modi’s influence in hopes of picking up a few seats in the Lok Sabha elections in the southern state.

Sandeep Vachasapathi, the state spokesperson for the Kerala BJP, expressed confidence in the party’s prospects, citing increased focus from the central leadership and growing acceptance of Modi among Keralites. He was encouraged by the prime minister’s flurry of visits to Kerala as the state gets ready for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Modi’s appeal, according to Vachasapathi, cuts beyond sectarian and religious divides. He played off worries about previous election disappointments, relying instead on Modi’s magnetism to get the BJP across the finish line in Kerala.

The BJP official said that they have to live up to Modi’s expectations, pointing out that the PM’s standing among Keralans had increased.

He said, “Surveys indicate that roughly 40% of state voters see Modi as India’s next prime minister.”

According to Vachaspathi, there has been a discernible shift in favor of the BJP in local elections as opposed to those held in 2014 and 2019.

“There’s no similar wave nationally now,” he told PTI, “but in 2019, Congress’s hype around Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy from Wayanad contributed to the Congress-led UDF’s victory in Kerala.”

Vachaspathi said that Malayalis and the country as a whole had a strong pro-Modi feeling. Many people in Kerala now think that Modi’s Cabinet ought to include a state representation. He remarked, “Therefore, Modi’s visit gives party workers a challenge to fulfill this wish and boosts confidence.”

A BJP official voiced confidence in Modi’s appeal, saying that his non-sectarian image and widespread acceptance would win him support from Kerala’s minorities, who make up a sizeable section of the population. Still, the Congress and the CPI(M) don’t waver in their opposition to the BJP.

Senior CPI(M) leader M A Baby said that the BJP will not succeed in Kerala by using a policy of persuasion and compulsion to draw parties beyond the NDA.

Although he acknowledged that the BJP has benefited somewhat from such opportunistic measures, he denounced the strategy as deceptive. Baby criticized the BJP for allegedly engaging in political opportunism when it hired former Congressman Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief minister of Assam.

He said that similar strategies will fail in Kerala, suggesting that Modi is still unaware of this fact.

The CPI(M) politburo member dismissed the idea that Modi’s reputation will influence Kerala voters, pointing out that the BJP had only been able to win one seat in the Kerala Assembly since 2016.

Baby said that the Congress and the UDF would have to cooperate for the BJP to make any real progress in Kerala, and he didn’t think it would happen because of the possibility of tarnishing their reputation.

Therefore, he told PTI, “the CPI(M) and its allies in Kerala would not be in danger from Modi’s repeated visits.” Reiterating the state’s opposition to the BJP, senior Congressman Kodikkunnil Suresh cited worries expressed by minorities over their safety under BJP governance.

The people of Kerala will continue to see the BJP negatively, even if Modi visits the state often. due to the fact that the majority of voters support the democratic and secular facets of society,” he said.

One of the most senior members of the Lok Sabha, Suresh, attacked Modi for what he said was his passivity on matters such as the violence in Manipur. He said that the BJP’s efforts to build bridges with the Christian community would be hindered by concerns about right-wing organizations.

“As Prime Minister, Modi has come under fire for not stepping in to solve the issues that the people of Manipur are facing. He said that whereas previous presidents had stepped in to mediate disputes in different regions of the nation, Modi did not go to Manipur or recognize the problems the minority population in the northeastern state was facing.

Suresh was optimistic that the BJP would find it difficult to get minority votes, which is essential for winning the Kerala election. He said that the Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF will continue to be the primary contenders in the Lok Sabha elections, making the BJP’s chances of winning unlikely.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Modi conducted two sizable roadshows in Kerala last month—one in Thrissur and the other in Kochi—to emphasize the BJP’s emphasis on the state that is controlled by the opposition. In the first week of January, Modi traveled to Thrissur and attended a BJP-organized women’s conference.

Modi traveled to Kerala in the middle of January and attended a number of events there, including the marriage of actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi’s daughter at the renowned Guruvayur Lord Krishna temple.

He also said prayers at the Thriprayar Sree Rama Swami Temple in the Thrissur district and spoke at a party gathering in Kochi’s Marine Drive that drew over 6,000 “shakti kendra” leaders.

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