—P.S. Sridharan Pillai, Kerala BJP president
The first time NDA victory in Kerala has not only surprised the political pandits but also scared the Congress and Left parties. The Congress that had 12 seats in the last Parliament from Kerala failed even to open its account. The Left parties have set up a special committee to enquire into the growth of BJP, which stood number one in five Assembly segments and secured over 25,000 votes in 17 other seats. Organiser representative Pramod Kumar spoke to Shri P.S. Sridharan Pillai, Kerala BJP president, to find the reason as to how the BJP grew in the state. Shri Pillai is a practising lawyer in Kerala High Court. From 1977-79 he was ABVP state general secretary and since 1980 he is in BJP and has worked in different capacities including state general secretary and vice president. Excerpts:
What is the reason for BJP'sgrowth in Kerala?
By winning the Moovaptupzha Lok Sabha seat, the NDA has opened its account in Kerala. This time the BJP alone secured 12.5 per cent votes. Kerala politics, that had been confined to two fronts—United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Congress and supported by Muslim League and Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by CPM during the last three decades, now has a third force, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Earlier the maximum votes that the BJP got in Kerala was 8 per cent. In the last Assembly polls held in 2001, it secured 5.4 per cent votes.
The BJP was in first position in five Assembly constituencies and in five other segments it secured second position. For the other 17 seats, the BJP and its ally, the Indian Federal Democratic Party (IFDP), got more than 25,000 votes. Now the BJP appears to be a formidable force in Kerala. This 52 per cent increase in its votes is mainly because of leakage of votes from both fronts. Scared with NDA victory, the LDF and CPM have appointed a committee to enquire into the reason for the growth of the BJP, so apprehensive are the LDF and CPM. As far as the Congress is concerned, they could not get even a single seat and their vote percentage too decreased substantially. In the outgoing Parliament they had 12 seats out of a total of 20 seats. CPM vandalism against the RSS and BJP has also angered the people of the state.
Vandalism by the CPM may have angered the people, but why did the Congress fail to get even one?
The Congress has been exploiting the CPM vandalism and atrocities that the common man did not like. Now people have started trusting the BJP, which is evident from the 52 per cent increase in our vote percentage.
Do you see the rejection of Congress in Kerala as people'sverdict on Sonia Gandhi'sforeign origin issue?
The verdict is absolutely against both the Congress and Sonia Gandhi. She had addressed a number of public meetings in Kerala. Definitely people have rejected her.
What will be the impact of Congress Leftist alliance at the Centre in Kerala where both have to fight against each other?
This opportunism will adversely affect both the fronts. Both will lose their support base. During the elections we had made it an issue and it had an impact. The Moovaptupzha seat that the NDA won is Christian dominated and the people trusted us there.
How many seats do you expect to win in the state Assembly?
We expect to win at least 10 seats in the coming Assembly elections. The BJP will change the entire arena of Kerala politics.
How will the BJP'sgrowth affect the LDF and UDF?
Organisationally the nationalist forces are very strong in Kerala. The BJP did not have a mass base in the state. This time our appeal attracted the masses and we got a very good response. In fact, people of the state are fed up with both the fronts and they want an alternative. The BJP is ready to fill the gap. Both these fronts had described Shri P.C Thomas as anti-Christian because he joined the NDA. But even Christians rejected all such allegations.
What are your future plans now?
The vacuum of an opposition party has developed in Kerala after all the MPs, excluding the NDA MP, supported the UPA government at the Centre. The BJP will work as a creative Opposition. Fighting for people'scause, we shall organise the people from all walks of life. Muslim extremism and fundamentalism is growing day-by-day in Kerala. The communists too are also involved in anti-democratic activities. Criminalisation of politics is also growing which is alien to development of this part of the country. We shall expose it.
How is the Antony government working in Kerala?
There is no administration in Kerala. The Antony government is mostly engaged in appeasing the Muslims. The 70 per cent population of the state is being handled by Muslim League ministers. Corruption is rampant. Hindus are not getting justice under this government. The LDF parties and extremist Muslim organisations like Jamaat-e-Islami and National Development Front are in league together. Both fronts? politics is based on Muslim appeasement. The issue of communal appeasement by both fronts will be placed before the people of the state.