With general elections just round the corner, the Kerala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is setting much store by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s one-day visit to the State on Sunday.

Visiting the State for the first time after he was named the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Modi will address two major events, one in Kochi and the other in the State capital.

In Kochi, he is scheduled to address celebrations marking the centenary of what is known as ‘kayal samaram,’ a historic gathering by Dalits on a flotilla of country crafts under the leadership of Pandit Karuppan in protest against the denial of right to organise on land in the erstwhile Kochi state.

The meeting in Kochi is being organised by one faction of the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha. On stage along with Mr. Modi will be Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan, who will deliver the keynote address. The meeting, which has drawn flak from sections within the community, is expected to provide Mr. Modi an ideal opportunity to reach out to the powerful lower castes in the State.

Mr. Modi will meet top functionaries of various Christian church denominations in Kochi.

Show of strength

For the BJP, the premier event is the one being organised on the Shanghumughom beach here. Mr. Modi, who will fly in from Kochi along with BJP president Rajnath Singh, will address a massive rally from a huge stage that will accommodate as many as 100 leaders. Besides Mr. Singh, BJP vice-president Bandaru Dattatreya; V. Satheesh; Subramanian Swamy, and Pon Radhakrishnan will also address the rally, with which the BJP hopes to make an impact on the State from where it has never won an election to the State Assembly or Parliament.

The BJP State leadership is speaking about bringing in around five lakh people from across the State for the rally. Even half that number will choke the capital city, a large part of which is decked with party flags, arches, and banners welcoming Mr. Modi.

Before leaving for Delhi at 8.45 p.m., Mr. Modi will meet the representatives of some 70 community organisations.

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