Amit Shah to launch ‘yatra’ as BJP eyes opposition space in Kerala

Shah will kick off the 'jan raksha yatra' (people's protection march) from Payyannur in Kannur, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's home town, and it will wind through the state before ending in Thiruvananthapuram on October 17. Several Union ministers will also participate in the march.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: October 2, 2017 5:43 pm
amit shah, bjp, kerala, bjp kerala, bjp rally, kerala rally kerala bjp rally, amit shah bjp rally, amit shah kerala rally, india news, indian express news BJP National President Amit Shah File/PTI Photo

BJP chief Amit Shah will launch a 15-day march in Kerala on Tuesday to target the state’s CPI(M) government with the BJP accusing the Left party of being on a “killing spree” against its workers. Making the announcement, Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday accused the CPI(M) of “murder politics”, claiming that it had become desperate due to the saffron party’s growing popularity and had started state-sponsored violence against its workers. Shah will kick off the ‘jan raksha yatra’ (people’s protection march) from Payyannur in Kannur, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s home town, and it will wind through the state before ending in Thiruvananthapuram on October 17. Several Union ministers will also participate in the march.

“The CPI(M) is desperate and on a killing spree. It is doing murder politics in its desperation and people, including from the CPI(M), are joining the BJP. We will use democratic means to answer its violence,” Javadekar told a press conference. As many as 120 BJP workers, 84 in Kannur alone, have been killed in the state since 2001 with 14 of them in the chief minister’s home town since he took the reigns last year, he alleged.

The CPI(M) has, in turn, accused the BJP and the RSS of resorting to violence and denied the involvement of its government and leadership in political killings. The ‘M’ in CPI(M) now stands for “Maoists” and not “Marxists”, he claimed, accusing the party of using violence as a tool to suppress the saffron party. At least one Union minister would be present on each day of the march and some BJP chief ministers might also turn up.

Union ministers Ananth Kumar, Smriti Irani, Giriraj Singh, V K Singh, Dharmendra Pradhan besides Javadekar among others would attend the march. “We are getting huge public support. It will be a historic march,” he said. Noting that it was Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, he said his party would use democratic means to protest the Left’s violence in the same manner Gandhi used non-violence to oppose the British.

The march, which would be part on foot and part in vehicles, is being seen as the saffron party’s push to emerge as a potent force in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha poll in 2019. Always a marginal force in the southern state, the BJP has steadily gained in strength there since 2014 Lok Sabha poll, when it fetched over 10 per cent votes, and got close to 15 per cent of vote share in the assembly poll in 2016.

It won only one seat but it was its maiden entry to the assembly.With the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF being two entrenched political forces in the state, the BJP believes it can surprise its rivals in a triangular contest if it manages to push its vote share beyond a threshold. It has already allied with some smaller outfits in the state.

Javadekar claimed even the Congress workers have been victims of the CPI(M)’s violence but the party could not raise the issue much due to its proximity to the Left in central politics.

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