Kerala Assembly Election 2021, is just a week away, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has brought in its star campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM was in the state to campaign for its star candidate E Sreedharan. The PM said both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), were the same and “only different in name”.
He said the people had now become aware of the “match-fixing” that he accused both sections of indulging in political backchanneling. He said, “For many years, the worst-kept secret of Kerala politics was the friendly agreement of UDF and LDF. Now, the first-time voter of Kerala is asking – what is this match-fixing? Five years one loots, five years the other loots,” said PM Modi, addressing an election rally in Palakkad.
However, it was his accusation that the LDF was “betraying Kerala for a few pieces of gold” like “Judas”, that made many sit up. It is the last week of Lent, the 40 days of fasting Christians observe till Good Friday, and the biblical reference was probably aimed at driving home a point of “corruption” etc to a section of voters. However, Judas had betrayed Jesus, hence it was not clear why the PM chose to use that as a reference to the gold smuggling scandal in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office has faced allegations. The Prime Minister was quoted by NDTV saying, “Judas had betrayed Lord Christ for a few pieces of silver… just like that LDF has betrayed Kerala for a few pieces of gold.”
E Sreedharan (88) is now the BJP’s most prominent candidate and the potential Chief Ministerial face of the state, where the party has so far failed to make much of a political impact. However, even the PM did not have much to bank on as far as the BJP’s ‘achievements’ or promises if it won in the state were concerned. Hence the PM played it safe and hailed E Sreedharan, the candidate from Palakkad as the “Metroman” who the PM called “a true son of Kerala, he thought beyond power, stood firm on his commitment to Kerala.”
The PM also seems to have reached out to the first time voters of Kerala who he said were “very disappointed with LDF and UDF.” According to news reports, the PM claimed that the young voters of Kerala and professional communities were openly supporting the BJP because of its “forward-looking and aspirational” vision and the “trend” was “being seen across India.” He also coined the acronym “F.A.S.T” for the Kerala polls to refer to fisheries and fertilisers; agriculture and ayurveda; skill development and social justice; tourism and technology. Kerala goes to polls on April 6 and the results will be declared on May 2.
The Party’s manifesto released by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on March 24, promises a law to curb so-called ‘love jihad’ legal protection of Sabarimala’s traditions, governance of temples freed from party representatives, apart from free laptops for high school students, employment etc.
However the PM remained silent on the harassment of the two Catholic nuns, one of whom hailed from Kerala, and two other young women travelling together in a train, near Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month. The All India Catholic Union (AICU), had called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to take exemplary action against the vigilante group and the police personnel involved in the incident. The Chief minister of Kerala had also written to the Central government on the issue. The matter was also raised by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who during his campaign had said the criminals, “will be brought to justice.”