Shah, Yogi to take part in statewide yatra in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (IANS) Union Home Minister Amit Shah, several of his cabinet colleagues and top national BJP leaders will arrive in Kerala on February 21 to take part in a statewide yatra being organised by the party’s state unit led by its president K. Surendran.

Senior state leader George Kurian told the media here on Thursday that the yatra will be flagged off by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Kasargode on February 21, while Shah will arrive in the state capital on the concluding day of the yatra on March 7.

The yatra is seen as the launch of the BJP’s election campaign in Kerala, which is likely to go to the polls in April/May this year.

Others who are expected to take part in the yatra include Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Pralhad Joshi, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and former Congress leader Khusboo, who recently jumped ship to the BJP.

The slogan of the yatra is ‘A new Kerala’, which is free from corruption. Enroute the state capital, the yatra will include 14 big rallies and 80 public meetings.

The Assembly polls will be an acid test for Kerala BJP, which is aiming to increase its tally from one seat in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.

Party veteran and former Union minister O. Rajagopal stunned all when he won from the Nemom Assembly seat in the state capital to open the account for the BJP in the 2016 Assembly polls. Rajagopal, who is now 91, is most unlikely to be fielded again this time.

The state unit of the BJP will go all out to better its electoral performance in the southern state, and inviting the top party leadership to the state is a step in that direction.

In a surprise move on Thursday, the state unit of the BJP managed to rope in Metroman E. Sreedharan, who is likely to join the saffron party on February 25 when the yatra reaches his hometown in Malappurram. He is likely to contest the polls too.

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