Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kerala's Pathanamthitta district -- where the Sabarimala temple is located -- to interact with BJP workers on January 6, the state leadership confirmed today.
PM Modi will address 100 rallies across India, including three in Kerala, ahead of the 2019 elections. While the first event will be held in Pathanamthitta on January 6, the second is likely to be conducted in Thrissur. The venue of the third rally is yet to be confirmed.
The BJP believes that it is gaining ground in the Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram parliamentary constituencies, and the Prime Minister's rallies could galvanise its cadre ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Kerala witnessed a lot of turmoil over the last few months, after the Supreme Court rejected an age-old stricture to allow women of all ages to enter the historical Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. While right-wing groups claimed that the top court's writ does not extend into the religious domain, the Pinarayi Vijayan government said it will do everything in its capacity to ensure that the judicial order is carried out.
The clashes that followed made many believe that the BJP -- which has long tried to gain a foothold in the southern state -- would stand to benefit from the controversy. State BJP chief PS Sreedharan Pillai was even heard saying in an audio clip that the Sabarimala issue was a "golden opportunity" for his party. However, local body bypolls held in the state last month belied their expections, with the ruling Left alliance romping home with 21 out of 39 wards -- leaving just 12 and two for the Congress and BJP respectively.
The BJP recently faced defeats in assembly polls held across Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, three politically significant states in the Hindi heartland. The development has lifted the Congress' spirits and made political observers wonder if the Modi wave that swept the country in 2014 is finally ebbing.
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