The BJP has been working on getting more votes apart from the backing of its lone lawmaker in Kerala for National Democratic Alliance’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 presidential election. Sources said that this will mark an “ideological victory’’ and boost morale of the party’s cadres in Kerala.
Sources said that the BJP is trying to get six votes, including that of its lone MLA O Rajagopal in the 140-member state assembly. Party leaders indicated that they have been in touch with legislators of smaller parties and some Kerala Congress-Mani (KCM) members in this regard. “We are expecting some surprises and Kerala is one among those states…’’ said a BJP leader.
K M Mani-led KCM had left Congress-led United Democratic Front after 34 years in 2016 and has been functioning as a separate block in the state assembly. The party has six legislators besides one member each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Mani insisted that there was no such move of supporting Kovind. “I am sure there is nothing happening in the party without my knowledge. I have announced that our party will vote for Meira Kumar (the opposition candidate),” Mani said. “This is just a story circulated to create confusion.’’
But BJP leaders insisted that there would be “surprising” news from Kerala on July 20 when the votes will be counted after the presidential poll. Several BJP leaders have visited the state recently. Union minister Hansraj Ahir was in Kerala last week while BJP general secretary Ram Madhav is expected to follow suit.
A party leader said that the BJP has been working hard to see that Kovind gets some votes other than the expected from a few states. The party has ensured that there will be votes from the opposition camp in Northeastern states. In CPM-ruled Tripura, six rebel Trinamool Congress MLAs and two Congress members are expected to vote for Kovind.
The BJP has been involved in an ideological battle with Kerala’s ruling CPM in Left bastion and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s home district of Kannu. The two sides have clashed regularly there.
The BJP has been trying to woo Christians, who have been supporters of the Congress-led alliance in Kerala. It is keen to see a consolidation of Hindu and Christian votes as Muslims are considered to be the Left supporters.