In the genre of political yatras, it’s a challenge to try and fit in the Jana Raksha Yatra, a 15-day-long Kerala march taken out by BJP state chief Kummanam Rajasekharan which concluded on Tuesday. Covering the length and breadth of the state, touching most districts, the saffron party went all out to carve out a space in what has largely remained a bi-partisan polity, despite its earlier efforts. The BJP national president Amit Shah, who launched the yatra from Payyannur on October 3, returned to the state capital on the final day to ring down the curtains, in a massive show of strength.
The yatra, seeking to highlight the twin terrors—Red and jihadi—in the state, is expected to rejuvenate the party and shore up its electoral fortunes like never before. But the miserable fourth place result it had to contend with at the Vengara Assembly bypoll would surely have dampened the spirit of the workers. This, despite the considerable artillery it brought to bear on Kerala, by arraying three BJP CMs—Yogi Adityanath, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Manohar Parrikar—and Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nitin Gadkari and Smriti Irani. Some of the big guns seemed to misfire as the staccato words of derision aimed at the Pinarayi government was deflected by the Left government to encompass all Malayalees.
So, jibes like ‘learn from UP how to run hospitals’, ‘a state ruled by rogues’ were misdirected missiles that made all Keralites hot under the collar. Just as the ‘five crore Gujarati’ clarion call worked when confronted with posers on Gujarat riots way back in 2002, the ethnocentrism sword seems to cleave equally well in Kerala. No wonder PM Narendra Modi on Monday revisited the proven rhetoric of Gujarati pride against the Nehru-Gandhi clan. The way things are shaping, the BJP’s rise in Kerala would have to come at the cost of the Congress and not the CPM; the latter may facilitate exactly this by snuffing out the Congress in the state. Only then can Parivartan take place.