The BJP will not open its account in Kerala

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is confident of the Left winning this election. He tells Jeemon Jacob that, for him, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is just another UDF candidate and the BJP is not even a political force in the state. Excerpts:

Q. Poll surveys predict doom for the Left Democratic Front (LDF). How many seats do you hope to win?

A. We have seen in the past how these surveys fall flat. They are nothing but exercises to see if public opinion can be swayed in favour of groups backed by the organisations that conduct such survey. The LDF is poised to win a thumping majority, as a situation similar to 2004 exists now. What had the poll surveys predicted in 2016? Doom for Left parties. What was the result? We won and formed the government. The LDF is confident of victory, we have fulfilled all our promises.

Q. Do you think the entry of Congress president Rahul Gandhi into the Kerala poll arena will trigger a wave for his party in the state?

A. He is only one among the 20 United Democratic Front (UDF) candidates fighting a poll against the LDF in Kerala. We will defeat him.

Q. Recently, you took a stand against the return to the paper ballot.

A. We have had an unblemished voting run with the EVMs (electronic voting machines) for over two decades now. So there is no question of reverting to the era of ballot papers. Also, ballot paper-based voting is prone to malpractices.

Q. Will the controversy pertaining to the Sabarimala shrine damage the poll chances of the Left parties?

A. Some are trying to use it, but this election is being fought on economic policies that hamper the country’s growth. It is also an election to check the communalisation of society. We have resisted communalism, fought its ugly designs and will continue our fight till we die. But, for the Congress, communalism is not an issue; they have courted it on various occasions, as per their convenience.

Q. You have said that the prime minister is telling lies outside Kerala about Sabarimala. How are you going to counter the misinformation campaign on the Sabarimala issue?

A. My government has only acted to implement the Supreme Court order, which is binding on the government. But the prime minister and his party have tried to block and disobey the Supreme Court order by fanning communal passion. We understood their game plan to convert Sabarimala into a breeding ground for communal disharmony. The LDF conducted a series of public meetings across Kerala to explain its stance on the issue. People are well aware that we support gender equality and will implement the SC verdict on this issue. Is anyone above law? I’m confident that no amount of lies and misinformation can mislead the people of Kerala.

Q. Will the BJP open its account in Kerala this time?

A. Kerala is strong and secular. The enlightened people of this state will ensure that all communal forces are kept at bay. Numerically or politically, the BJP is not a force here. We have resisted them for long. We are confident of doing it this time as well.


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