After Kerala polls, BJP sets eyes on Christian votes

June 10, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

BJPNew Delhi, June 9, 2016: After the Kerala experience, BJP president Amit Shah wants his state unit to connect with Christians, hoping to get the community’s backing ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

At the same time, with the party’s performance in the recent assembly polls in the state falling short of its expectations, Shah has asked party leaders to find out who scraped away the BJP’s votes. He is likely to himself visit the state to explore the reasons, sources said.

The BJP managed to win just one seat, Nemom, but its vote share increased in Christian dominated areas in central and southern parts of the state, giving the party hope that the community could become a potential supporter.

Shah told a party delegation led by Kerala unit chief Kummanan Rajasekharan this week that the BJP should reach out to the Christians and win over their trust, according to the sources.

A party leader said that the BJP would have to build bridges with leaders of the community, which also held a sway in electoral politics in the 25 seats of northeastern states, in preparation for the next general elections in 2019. Of the nearly 45 per cent minority population in Kerala, Christians constitute 18.38 per cent.

Senior Christian leaders feel they should have a voice in the government. PC Thomas of the Kerala Congress, an ally of the BJP in the state, met Shah and has placed a string of demands, like including him in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Rome in September for the canonisation of Mother Teresa.

In a letter to Modi, Thomas has pointed out that “though a religious function, the citizens of India and Christians all over the globe are viewing this auspicious occasion of giving great acceptance and honour to Mother with high esteem.” He also recalled that when Mother Teresa was declared “Blessed”, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had deputed him to represent India in Rome.

Thomas’s list of proposals also includes representation for Christians in appointment of central government advocates in various courts in Kerala and posts in bodies like rubber board and spices boards.

A BJP leader admitted that there was a strategic disconnect with the Christians as the party failed to project its alliance with the community leaders as much as it did in the case of BJDS leader Vellapally Natesan, an ezhava leader.

The party had hoped to win around ten seats. In eight seats, it lost by a margin of less than 10,000 votes.

– dna

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