BJP chief Amit Shah’s three-day Kerala visit, with an aim to strengthen the party’s base in the southern state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, started today. BJP leaders said Shah, who attended the core committee meeting of the party, took stock of the party’s organisational progress in the state and reviewed the steps taken in view of the 2019 general elections.
Addressing a meeting of the leaders, workers and office- bearers of the BJP in the state, Shah said the saffron party, which had won several Assembly polls in the country after the 2014 Lok Sabha election, will not be “fully satisfied” till it won the Kerala Assembly polls. He added that the southern state was “important” in the BJP’s strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The BJP chief is eyeing to win at least a few of Kerala’s 20 Lok Sabha seats in the aftermath of the saffron party increasing its vote share substantially to 16 per cent in the state in the 2016 Assembly polls. It, however, managed to win only one seat in the Assembly election. It had drawn a blank in Kerala in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
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In his address, Shah accused the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala of practising the “politics of violence” and said the BJP will give a “befitting reply” to the perpetrators of attacks on its workers in the state through “democratic and legal means”. He alleged that 13 BJP-RSS workers were brutally murdered after the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government came to power in Kerala.
“I wish to tell Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that the lotus will continue to bloom in Kerala as long as your party continues with its violent attacks on our workers,” said Shah. Extending “full support” of the party’s central leadership to its workers in the southern state, he said the BJP would fight legally and in a democratic manner to ensure justice for those party workers who had lost their lives due to CPI-M’s “violent” politics.
Earlier, the BJP chief sought to reach out to a significant section of the minority Christian community in Kerala.
He met Bishops, including the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, seeking to build bridges with the minority community, which accounted for 18-20 per cent of votes in the state. A Syro-Malabar Church spokesperson said the meeting was organised as per Shah’s request and urged not to read politics in it.
He said at the meeting, the Bishops urged Shah for effective intervention of the Centre for the release of a Catholic priest from the state, Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted by ISIS terrorists in Yemen last year.
Shah, who arrived here amid a raging row in the state over the Centre’s notification banning sale and purchase of cattle at the animal markets for slaughter, also attended an NDA meeting in which senior leaders of the BJP-led alliance in the state were present.
He is slated to attend various party programmes at the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, tomorrow and the day after.