Is BJP barking up the wrong tree in Kerala, Gujarat?




Amit Shah Flags off Jan Raksha Yatra in New Delhi against left sponsored political violence in Kerala

Though Assembly elections in Kerala and West Bengal are more than three and a half years from now yet the manner in which the Bharatiya Janata Party is putting its efforts in these two states indicate that these two states are going to polls along with Gujarat in coming December.

On Sunday (October 8) its national president Amit Shah led a Jan Raksha Yatra to the CPI (M) headquarters in Delhi in protest against the alleged killing of RSS and BJP cadres in Kerala. A few days back he had launched the same Yatra in that state.

Shah is frequently visiting these two states, where the BJP, till a few years back, hardly existed. The saffron party is repeatedly raising the issue of killing of RSS cadres in Kerala though it is also a fact that equal number of ruling CPI (M) workers have died at the hands of Sangh Parivar men.

Not only that the party is repeatedly raising the issue of love-jehad, though they are yet to coin any appropriate phrase for Christian-Hindu marriages which too are quite common in the state.

In Bengal the saffron party has been accusing chief minister Mamata Banerjee of adopting the policy of Muslim appeasement, though it is also a fact that her Trinamool Congress was an ally of the BJP when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister.

Political observers are of the view that the BJP is in a hurry as it is not waiting for the Assembly polls. In fact it wants to make inroads into these two states for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

They are the two states where the Congress is not a ruling party. Instead TMC and Left Democratic Front are firmly ensconced in them.

The problem with the BJP is that it has reached its saturation point in the states where it had done extremely well in 2014 Lok Sabha election. For example the BJP led alliance won 73 (out of 80) and 31 (out of 40) seats in Bihar.

In its traditional bastion of Gujarat as well as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh the incumbency factor may go against it in 2019. In Maharashtra much depends on the role of Shiv Sena as well as NCP.

Though there are other states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Congress-ruled Karnataka yet Kerala and Bengal are somewhat different. They both have more than a quarter Muslim population and the BJP can easily whip up the communal passion.

In West Bengal the party wants to fill the gap created by the weakening of the Left parties. Several of their cadres have in fact crossed over to the saffron party.

In Kerala they want to push the Congress aside and emerge as an alternative to the LDF.

However, analysts doubt that the BJP would be able to make its presence felt in these two states. The party was routed in these two states only 17 months back and performed badly in the civic bodies poll in Bengal.

A Delhi-based commentator told TMC that the saffron party is in fact going to lose heavily in Assam in 2019 as Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF is bound to ally with the Congress.

“Besides, if things did not go well in Gujarat in the coming election the whole exercise may prove counter-productive in Kerala and Bengal, where the people in general do not like the rabid Moditva policy,” said an analyst.