BJP draws up new poll plank in Kerala

via PTI published on April 24, 2008

Kozhikode:
Moving away from its traditional style of campaign, the BJP in Kerala
is working out a new strategy for the coming parliamentary elections to
break the jinx by opening its maiden electoral account in the state.

While
the saffron party’s electioneering all through the years has been to
blame the two formidable fronts – the CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-led
UDF – of failing to deliver the goods, it is now keen to take on the
UPA at the Centre for `ignoring’ the interests of the state, thereby
not allowing it to prosper in major areas of development.

The
Centre’s `failure’ to increase the rice quota to the state, which has
come down alarmingly from 1.23 lakh tonnes to just 26,000 tonnes, price
rise of essential commodities and acute shortage of foodgrains are some
of the prime issues that the party plans to highlight from now on.

Hoping
to return to power at the Centre in the next elections, the BJP wants
to benefit `as much as it can’ in the state by throwing light on the
`growing differences’ between the Congress and the Left parties, who
are together calling the shots in Delhi, the latter though with outside
support, but continue to remain arch rivals in the state.

“The
political scenario is fast changing in the state as elsewhere in the
country and we want to make full use of it’, BJP’s Central Executive
member and the lone Special Invitee from the state to its national
office-bearers meet, P S Sreedharan Pillai told PTI.

“We
have a host of issues to place before the people to convince them that
as long as the two Fronts, who together have all the MPs representing
the state, remain in power they cannot expect any better’, he said.


“Though we could not win an
assembly or Lok Sabha seat in Kerala so far, we have been highly
successful in increasing our vote share in every election’, Pillai
said, referring to the 12.8 per cent votes it polled in the last
parliamentary polls.


Identifying
its pockets of influence, the party wants to contest only selected
seats this time, including Kasaragod, Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad,
where it has given their main opponents a tough fight on several
occasions in the past.

“We
are planning our programme carefully to ensure that the elusive win
does not remain so anymore. After all the people are fed up with both
the Fronts and feel betrayed’, the former state President said.

Asking
the CPI(M) and the Congress, heading the ruling and Opposition Fronts
in Kerala, to justify why they were not able to pressure the Centre to
promote the state’s interests, he said “it is quite baffling that the
Centre has chosen to blame the state for the acute shortage of
foodgrains it faces”.


“How
can you blame a state which brings huge foreign exchange to the
country, which tops in production of rubber and spices of not being
able to produce foodgrains?”
he asked.

While
the NDA pursued a common national policy ensuring free flow of
essential commodities to all the states, the UPA, on the contrary, was
encouraging states which it ruled to impose permit and licence system,
Pillai said.

“As
a result, Kerala is not in a position to import rice from states like
Andhra Pradesh and is also unable to maintain a healthy public
distribution system due to cut in the quota by the Centre’, he alleged.


While the rice quota had
been brought down by 80 per cent, its price had shot up by more than
100 per cent in Kerala,
Pillai said.

On
reports that india had a record foodgrain production this year, he said
the onus was therefore on the Centre to ensure that all the states
enjoyed their share.

“In
fact, the Centre has to be blamed for creating an artificial scarcity
in the state by imposing restrictions on movement of foodgrains’, he
said, adding the `ruling political set up is exploiting the situation
for monetary gains’.

On
Union Food Minister, Sharad Pawar’s remarks that the Centre cannot
increase the rice quota to the state, he said `when the NDA was in
power, the re was no crisis as the open market prices were almost
equivalent to the PDS rates’.

However,
now with the sharp cut in the quota, Kerala was unable to provide rice
through PDS at cheaper rates like in other states, he said.

“Another
major issue we will focus is the Sachar Commitee report, which comes as
part of Centre’s minority appeasement programme’, Pillai, who is also
BJP’s central observer for Lakshadweep, said.


Claiming
that minority domination was quite visible in the state’s education
sector, he said if educational institutions were to be sanctioned on
the basis of religious strength, the majority community was entitled to
take control of 55 per cent of the total higher secondary schools.


`However, of the 13,000 secondary schools in the state, only seven per cent is owned by hindu managements’, he said.

“With
the UPA developing cracks and the BJP getting stronger by every day, we
are confident that our new poll strategy will certainly bear fruits in
the state this time’, he added.

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