The BJP may have no grand ambitions for the five assembly elections but its leaders are surely on a high-voltage campaign. The party plans to hold as many as 800 public meetings and rallies in 824 assembly seats across Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Top party leaders includin
g L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley are likely to campaign intensively.
Unlike the Congress, which has stakes in all the states, the BJP can at the best improve the party’s tally of ten, which it got in the previous election, in Assam, and try to open an account in Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, it needs a miracle to win on its own. The most serious fight for the BJP is in Assam where it is going it alone. Party leader Arun Jaitley said a ‘double anti-incumbency’ factor was working against the ruling Congress. “BJP’s striking rate in Assam election will be far better than other political parties”, said party’s national spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain.
Corruption, inflation, law and order, particularly safety of women and infiltration would be the main issues, said BJP national secretary Vani Tripathi.
Next comes Kerala, which has been the BJP’s biggest challenge. Despite enjoying the support of about 12 per cent votes, the BJP has been unable to send its first MLA to the Kerala assembly. This time, it is counting on K J Alphons, the former DDA commissioner-turned-politician, who joined the BJP last week. He was an Independent MLA who had won the last election with the Left’s support.
The Congress has accused the BJP of trying to help the Left in Kerala. UDF leader Oomen Chandy has alleged that the absence of BJP candidate against chief minister V S Achuthanandan in Malampuzha is part of a “clandestine understanding.”
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP has fielded 190 candidates. Subramanian Swamy’s Janata Party, its ally, is contesting in 10 segments. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, who is in charge of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, said, “These states may appear to be zero-states for us but we are trying to make a mark.” In fact, for Tamil Nadu, the BJP has even announced freebies in its manifesto to compete with the DMK and AIADMK.
Interestingly, the BJP has fielded 4 Muslim candidates in Assam, three in West Bengal and one each in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The first three states have 25% and above Muslim population.