Amit Shah in Kerala as BJP struggles to find foothold in state

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Thiruvananthapuram: With BJP consistently failing to make electoral breakthrough in Kerala, party chief Amit Shah on Sunday started his maiden visit to the southern state to discuss with leaders and grassroots functionaries strategy to strengthen and galvanise the organisation.

Shah will attend a meet of state office bearers tomorrow morning and address a larger convention of over 6000 party functionaries, party sources said.

He is expected to discuss strategy to help BJP expand support base and make electoral gains with special emphasis on the need for strengthening the party at village level.

Shah will seek the blessings of Lord Sree Padmanabhaswamy of the famed temple here tomorrow before holding the meeting of the party’s state executive at Vazhuthacad Guest House and addressing the meet of village panchayat pramukhs, sources close to him said.

The party is looking with new hope at the southern state, where Left and the Congress have alternatively been in power all along, hoping to sell the development model of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Significantly, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has been in Kerala for the last few days, mostly interacting with senior state functionaries of the outfit.

Shah’s visit also assumes significance against the backdrop of factional tussles in the state and the internal debate over luring allies in Kerala, whose polity has been dominated by rival coalitions led by the Congress and CPI-M.

According to political observers, though BJP has grown in membership and support base in the state over the years, it still finds it difficult to attract smaller parties as allies.

This is especially so since the Muslims and Christian minorities are key factors in deciding the electoral outcome in most constituencies and the two fronts have been successful in wooing them.

Though certain sections in BJP in the state are not averse to reaching out to a party like Christian-dominated Kerala Congress (M) seizing on the “goodwill” created by Modi

Government at the Centre, this suggestion has met with cold response from a dominant section in the state leadership. Shah will be returning tomorrow night.

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