Kerala Assembly Elections | Amit Shah on a whirlwind tour of Kerala on March 24

Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah is in Kerala on a one-day whirlwind tour on Wednesday to boost the NDA’s electoral fortunes.

Mr. Shah has campaign stops scheduled in Thripunithara in Ernakulam, Kanjirapally in Kottayam, Puttingal in Kollam, and Malampuzha in Palakkad. The BJP had struck Thalassery in Kannur off Mr. Shah’s itinerary after the party suddenly found it had no candidate to field against incumbent legislator A.M. Shamsheer of the CPI(M).

The returning officer had rejected the nomination of the BJP district president N. Haridas. The constituency had witnessed an emergent BJP in 2016, with the party increasing its vote share by 10.5%.

The BJP faced a similar predicament in the Guruvayur constituency in Thrissur. Purported error in the filing had prompted the returning officer to reject State Mahila Morcha president Nivedita Subramaniam’s nomination.

Ms. Subramaniam had increased the party’s vote share in Guruvayur by 10% in 2016. She was projected to do better in 2021. The NDA faced a similar set back in Devikulam in Idukki, where the returning officer rejected the NDA candidate’s nomination from the AIADMK.

The reversals in three constituencies have reportedly prompted a period of bitter recrimination in the BJP’s State unit. Leaders felt the upsets had reduced the sheen of the party’s campaign. Sabarimala issue and the UAE gold smuggling case had buoyed the BJP’s prospects.

However, the misstep in filing nominations had provided ammunition to the CPI(M) and the Congress. Both parties alleged the BJP was here to trade votes and not compete. The LDF and UDF also accused each other of standing to benefit from the BJP’s “mercenary” vote diversion tactics.

A party insider said Mr. Shah would salvage the campaign. He would reignite the Sabarimala debate and make a clear pitch in Kanjirapally to woo Christian votes to the NDA fold. Mr. Shah would push Prime Minister Modi’s brand of “inclusive development” and spotlight the involvement of “higher-ups” in the gold case. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was likely to cap the BJP’s campaign in Kerala. Mr. Shah will leave for Coimbatore from Palakkad on Wednesday evening.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 8:48:39 PM |

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