Sreedharan’s entry into BJP a gimmick: Congress Kerala in-charge

BJP will be a marginal player, says Tariq Anwar.

Terming technocrat E. Sreedharan’s entry into the BJP a “gimmick,” the Congress’s Kerala in-charge Tariq Anwar on Sunday said it would be a direct fight between the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the coming Assembly polls as the people would not “waste” their votes on the BJP which would remain a marginal player in the State.

The Congress general secretary also asserted that it was not the party’s tradition to announce a chief ministerial face and after polls the name of the Chief Minister candidate would be arrived at through consensus.

In an interview with PTI, Mr. Anwar exuded confidence that the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) would form the next government in Kerala and stated that the main issue in polls would be the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s “corruption and mismanagement” in the last five years.

“The results will be in UDF’s favour. People had given mandate to the LDF last time but their performance in the last five years has not been good and three-four scandals have also been unearthed recently in which even the CPI(M) office has come under suspicion,” he said. “Conditions are in favour of the UDF as there is strong anti-incumbency of the five years,” the former Union Minister said

COVID-19 cases

The LDF government had said it had done great work during COVID-19 and the health system was very good, but the way the cases were rising all its claims had been proven wrong, Mr. Anwar said.

Asked about ‘Metro Man’ Mr. Sreedharan’s entry into the BJP and its impact on the polls, he said, “I don’t think it will have much of an impact because he may be a good technocrat but he does not have much of a rapport with the public.” “The people of Kerala are politically conscious and I don’t think suddenly bringing up a name would make much of a difference,” he asserted.

Talking about the BJP’s big ticket launch of the 88-year-old technocrat, Mr. Anwar claimed that the BJP always used such tactics as it did not have a strong leadership in Kerala.

The BJP’s presence was minuscule, so they wanted to make their presence felt by such “gimmicks”, he said, adding that the saffron party would remain a marginal player in the State.

“It will be a direct fight between the LDF and the UDF. Last time, the BJP had invested resources heavily in Kerala but despite that they had a low vote percentage,” Mr. Anwar said.

“This time we expect the BJP not to get even less because Kerala people know that the fight is between the LDF and the UDF so people would not like to waste their votes,” he said.

‘Rahul popular’

Asked if the Congress was going to rely on Rahul Gandhi for being the face of its campaign and canvass aggressively in Kerala, Mr. Anwar said, “Rahul is hugely popular in Kerala. If we look at the Lok Sabha result last time, since Rahul fought election from there, it had a major impact and we won 19 out of 20 seats. If he campaigns and concentrates heavily on Kerala, it would make a huge difference.”

Asked about Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s remarks accusing Mr. Gandhi of “speaking in the same tone” as of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath against his government, he said nobody would believe this charge as the Congress had a history that it could not have any understanding with communal forces.

Mr. Gandhi was leading a frontal attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi which not only the Congress but other opposition parties were also recognising and praising, Mr. Anwar asserted.

He said such statements showed that the LDF was “nervous” “They don’t have the confidence in their Front it seems,” he added.

Mr. Anwar said talks were on for sealing the seat-sharing deal among UDF constituents and 50% of the things had been finalised.

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