Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is working to woo the large following of numerous Hindu groups in West Bengal and Kerala to emerge as a political force in the two states, which are likely to go to the polls in April-May.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Gaudiya Math in Kolkata on February 21, when he will also attend some government events, is seen as an exercise in this direction as the party believes that it can tap huge followings of various religious bodies by projecting its Hindutva credentials and targeting the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government for its alleged ‘pro-Muslims’ bias.
A party leader involved with the West Bengal assembly polls claimed that bodies like Gaudiya Math, Ramakrishna Mission, Iskcon have close to 1.5 crore followers in the state and its campaign would aim at wooing them.
"We believe that there is unease among a large number of Hindu voters due to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s brazen vote bank politics to appease Muslims. We will depend on soft-Hindutva to take on her pro-Muslim politics," he said.
He underlined Banerjee’s sops for Imams and Muslim bodies and her government’s "inaction" in the Malda violence to justify BJP’s Hindutva pitch.
In a similar vein, the party is aggressively wooing numerous Hindu bodies, many of which are community-based, to strengthen its vote share in Kerala where it has long been a minor player.
Modi had recently attended a function of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a prominent body of influential Ezhava community, in Kerala and party chief Amit Shah reportedly asked the state leaders at a recent meeting to reach out to various Hindu bodies. It is likely to enter into an electoral alliance with SNDP.
The party had drawn a blank in 294-seat West Bengal assembly and 140-member Kerala House in the last elections but its vote share saw a considerable jump in both states in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. It won two Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal but none in Kerala.