Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious target of capturing 12 Lok Sabha seats from Kerala in the 2019 general elections. He has directed BJP national president Amit Shah to coordinate the preparations for the LS elections. The Herculean task of making a saffron surge in Kerala has been given to the four general secretaries — M.T. Ramesh, A. N. Radhakrishnan, Sobha Surendran and K. Surendran.
Though Mr Modi and Mr Shah had called all the senior leaders in the country to the core committee meeting, Mr Modi gave prominence to Kerala. A top BJP leader told this newspaper that the central leadership had asked state president Kummanam Rajasekharan to win seats and not to highlight the increased vote share any more.
“The BJP has its own set up of booth, mandalam, district and Parliament-level committees and will eventually improve the situation. However, now our main agenda is to make the national council and executive meeting in Kozhikode from September 23 to 25 a grand success,” Mr Kummanam told this newspaper. Mr Amit Shah had sent a survey team to all the states, including Kerala, to gauge the chances of BJP in the 2019 elections.
Mr Modi sent his Special Protection Group Director, Arun Kumar Sinha, to coordinate the work of the national survey team in Kerala. The team has reported that the BJP will make strides in the LS elections. “The BJP would give thrust to the youth as per the diktat of Modi and Amit Shah. Despite the CPM getting a vote share of 43 per cent in the 2016 Assembly elections, there was a decrease of 1.94 per cent compared to the 2011 Assembly elections,” said a top BJP leader.
The strategy of Mr Modi and Mr Amit Shah is to bring all the Hindu organisations in the state under the NDA umbrella. They are concerned that SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellapally Natesan has been cosying up to the LDF. Within the next three months, Mr Amit Shah will appoint 600 members to various boards in the state. He has asked all the four general secretaries as well as former state presidents to nurse their previous constituencies.
The BJP president has also decided to send a union minister each to all the 20 LS seats who will directly report to him on the progress they make. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s command to the state BJP to win 12 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections is a tall order. The party’s vote base will have to rise three times its last Assembly or Lok Sabha elections to win a Lok Sabha seat from Kerala. Therefore, getting a dozen seats in the 2019 general elections will be an Herculean task.
The BJP’s vote share has been steadily increasing over the years. It went up from 4.75 per cent in the 2006 Assembly elections to 6.03 per cent in the 2011 polls. Similarly, it rose from 6.03 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls to 10.3 per cent in the 2014 general elections. During November 2015 local bodies elections, BJP’s vote share rose to an all-time high of 14 per cent. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the NDA had got 14.89 per cent vote share.
With Mr Modi and his team urging Kerala BJP leaders to work full time for a massive victory, the state leaders are finding it tough to come to terms with it now. State leaders are aware of the fact that there are only a handful of them who can chart a victory and are banking on the seven Assembly seats where they had reached the second position in the recently concluded polls. They admit on the sly that they don’t have the charisma of veteran BJP leader O. Rajagopal who came up victorious in the 2016 Assembly elections from Nemom seat.