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Amit Shah on 3-day Kerala visit from tomorrow

New Delhi: BJP chief Amit Shah will undertake a three-day tour of Kerala from tomorrow as part of his efforts to strengthen the party and make it a potent force in the state by 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

He is scheduled to chair several party meetings and interact with bishops as part of his efforts to win over a section of Christians. He will also meet intellectuals and community leaders.

Shah’s visit comes against the backdrop of the controversial public slaughter of a calf by Youth Congress workers. A party leader, however, insisted that his tour should not be linked to the incident as it was scheduled long back and is part of his organisation-building exercise.

Shah will meet bishops in Kochi tomorrow, underlining his party’s efforts to build bridges with the minority community, which accounts for 18-20 per cent of votes in the southern state.

The party’s in-charge of the state H Raja said the meeting is aimed at “understanding each other” and added that Shah will undertake an “in-depth” analysis of the organisational work in the state during his three-day stay.

It has also been trying to cosy up to Kerala Congress (M), a former Congress ally that enjoys substantial following among Christians.

Many BJP leaders believe that it is imperative for the organisation to win over a section of minority votes to emerge as a potent force in a state where Hindu votes are about 55 per cent. Muslims constitute about 26-27 per cent of the electorate.

Shah will also hold meetings with BJP allies, leaders of various communities and influential people, besides interacting with organisation leaders to take stock of its work and lay out its future plans.

Kerala is important in the BJP’s strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as Shah expects to win a chunk of its 21 seats after the party increased its vote share substantially to 16 per cent in the 2016 assembly polls. It, however, could win only one seat. It had drawn a blank in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

It has built alliance with smaller outfits representing different communities.

—PTI