Kerala

Local body polls a litmus test for BJP

For a party that is striving hard to end the bipolar politics in Kerala, it will be a litmus test for the BJP and its State president K. Surendran in the coming three-tier local body polls.

Perhaps the Central leadership appointed the 50-year-old Surendran, in February this year, the youngest leader to hold the post till now, to break the jinx that the party has been facing for a long time.

That Mr. Surendran emerged the top choice for the Central leadership is no guess. He had the solid backing of Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, who leads one of the factions in the party, despite the opposition from a powerful RSS lobby.

Intra-party squabbles

Today he faces a barrage of issues ranging from local rebellions and the allegations from senior leaders, including a strong challenge from the faction led by former president and national executive member P.K. Krishnadas.

Mr. Surendran, who has been taking on the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front government, is to a small extent striking a chord with the young brigade in the party.

Nevertheless many believe that it is the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is saving the day for BJP candidates in the faction-ridden party.

Electoral strategy

So far the State leadership of the party has not been able to build an electoral strategy and political gravitas to challenge its rivals in the State.

Like his prominent presence in the protests against the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the custom of prohibiting women in their ‘menstruating years’ from entering the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple, Mr. Surendran has been raking up issues against the LDF government.

However, his real task will be to revive the fortunes of the party in three-tier polls either by capturing the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation or a few municipalities and improving its presence in grama panchayats across the State.

The BJP is in power in Palakkad municipality and is the principal Opposition in Thiruvananthapuram City Council, and Kasaragod, Shoranur, Tripunithura and Kodunganloor municipalities.

Elsewhere the party is putting up formidable challenges in several Corporations and municipalities, including Kozhikode, Ottappalam, Tanur, Kottayam, Mavelikkara. Pandalam, Varkala, and Nedumangad.

Real test

The three-tier polls will only be a semifinal. The final will, of course, be the Assembly elections slated for April-May next year.

But before that Mr. Surendran may have to mend his ways with the RSS and take into confidence various groups before taking on the political opponents.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:10:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/local-body-polls-a-litmus-test-for-bjp/article33133748.ece

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