PM’s visit signals a recalibration of BJP’s electoral strategy for Kerala

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Kerala on April 24 signals the recalibration of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) electoral strategy in the State in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha (LS) polls. The BJP hopes to tip the political scales in its favour by muting its overt appeals to Hindu nationalism to improve its relatively low standing with the State’s sizeable minority population.

The BJP perceives itself in a strong position at the national level to seek an expansive accommodation with the minority communities and address the development aspirations of the State’s young demographic, both crucial voting blocks that could influence the outcome of close election races in Kerala in some measure.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Modi’s programme in Kochi includes a meeting with Church leaders, an “apolitical interaction with a cross-section of aspirational youth”, and a high-decibel roadshow aimed at winning the ardour of the masses.

Later in Thiruvananthapuram, on April 25, Mr. Modi will announce a slew of rail development projects, launch the Water Metro and lay the foundation stone for the Digital Sciences Park.

The BJP wants to signal that “Kerala’s rapid development and not jaded ideological battles” would make a tangible difference for the State.

Setting the stage for his visit, Mr. Modi tweeted: “I am eager to be among the people of Thiruvananthapuram on the 25th. Kerala’s first Vande Bharat Express would be flagged off, which will run between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod. 11 districts of Kerala will be covered. It will greatly benefit tourism and commerce. At the programme in Thiruvananthapuram, the foundation stone would be laid for the redevelopment of Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, and Varkala Sivagiri railway stations. Will also lay the foundation stone for a Digital Science Park, which will be a great addition to this vibrant city”.

The ruling front has sought to bust the “Modi myth” on the eve of his arrival by holding rallies posing “100 questions” to the Prime Minister aimed at reminding the electorate about the “attack on minorities, Pulwama revelations and Hindenburg’s exposure of Mr. Adani’s stock manipulation”.

Continuing defections of Christian leaders from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to the BJP have buoyed the party’s State unit ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit. Congress hopes to reverse the alarming trend by pitching Rahul Gandhi into the fray in May.

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