Updated: April 6, 2021 11:32:12 pm
With an aim to get support from the Christian community, which forms nearly 20 per cent of Kerala’s population, the BJP gave tickets to eight candidates from the community in Tuesday’s Assembly election including young, fresh faces. The prominent among them is Anoop Antony Joseph, national secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) who has been fielded from Ambalappuzha in Alappuzha district.
Anoop, 36, an engineering graduate, joined the BJP in 2011 after a few years of working closely with the Vivekananda Kendra and the Vivekananda International Foundation, think-tanks associated with the party. He began working at the national level by handling responsibilities during the ‘Jan Chetna Yatra’ carried out by senior leader LK Advani in 2011. He has also worked in the party’s intellectual cell, playing key roles in the drafting of policy documents. In 2017, he was elected the national secretary of BJYM while Poonam Mahajan was its president.
In his debut election, Anoop faces an uphill battle against H Salam of the CPI(M) and M Liju of the Congress in a coastal constituency considered to be a Left stronghold. Nine out of 14 times, the voters in Ambalappuzha have elected a Left MLA. Since 2006, the constituency has been represented by senior CPM leader and outgoing PWD minister G Sudhakaran. He was benched following the party’s decision to exclude those who have had two successive terms in the Assembly.
Nevertheless, the BJP has a strong vote base in the constituency. In 2016, it polled 17 per cent of the vote-share, up 14 per cent from the previous election, after it stitched an alliance with the Ezhava-based party BDJS.
“It seemed a tough contest to me initially. But I feel I have an advantage. Comparatively, my rival candidates are not putting up a fight. It’s a close contest. BJP has the potential to make inroads into the coastal communities here. We expect to get a lot of support here,” said Anoop.
“A lot of traditional Christian votes which usually go to the Congress will come to us this time, across Kerala. We are having a dialogue with the community and engaging with their problems. Congress tried its best to prove that BJP is anti-Christian, but people are not convinced,” claimed Anoop, who belongs to the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Some of the other constituencies where the BJP has nominated Christian candidates include Irinjalakuda (former IPS officer Jacob Thomas), Kanjirappally (former Union MoS Alphons KJ), Muvattupuzha (Jiji Joseph) and Aranmula (Biju Mathew).
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