You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Amit Shah begins Kerala tour today to prepare ground for 2019 polls

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-06-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Kochi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah will begin his three-day visit to Kerala on Friday to increase his party’s political clout.

A few “popular persons” may join the party during his visit, BJP state in charge H. Raja told reporters on Thursday, though he did not give names.

Kerala is crucial for BJP in its efforts to become a truly national party. The saffron juggernaut, which is on a roll in most Indian states, has not yet been able to make a strong electoral footprint in Kerala. It is one of the few states where BJP has never won a parliamentary seat ever.

However, the party was able to carve some success recently, arguably with the rise of Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi within the BJP. In the assembly election in May last year, BJP doubled its vote share to 16% and won one seat for the first time ever.

Shah’s visit is part of his 110-day tour across Indian states to prepare the ground for the next national polls in 2019, said BJP’s former state president and national executive member Sreedharan Pillai. Shah will be holding at least four separate meetings with key members of the party and allies of BJP-led third front National Democratic Alliance or NDA, apart from some outsiders and Hindu and Christian religious leaders, said Pillai.

Shah is expected to make some public remarks on the murders in Kannur, where his party workers are locked in a violent turf war with the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, and reports about youths in Kerala being driven to radical Islam, said another BJP leader, who did not want to be named.

The visit comes at a time when the BJP is fighting an image crisis in the state over the Centre’s new cattle trade norms. Fears of a ban on beef, a popular food item in Kerala, has sparked outrage against the central government. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is vociferously protesting against the rules, and almost all opposition parties are supporting him. The BJP is thus the only political party supporting the new cattle norms, sparking debate on who it really represents

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon