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PM Modi's hope of two digits in Kerala could be zero and zero: Shashi Tharoor

During his speech at the BJP meeting here on Tuesday, Modi had urged the people of Kerala to bless the saffron party with seats in double digits in the 2024 LS polls.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 16:44 IST

Thiruvananthapuram: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambition for the BJP to secure seats in double digits in Kerala in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, saying that the only way the saffron party could achieve such a feat in the southern state would be by obtaining two zeros.

"Otherwise, there is only one digit coming the BJP's way in Kerala, and that is zero," Tharoor told media persons here after inaugurating a photo exhibition as part of the culmination of the state-wide yatra organised by KPCC president K Sudhakaran and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan here.

During his speech at the BJP meeting here on Tuesday, Modi had urged the people of Kerala to bless the saffron party with seats in double digits in the 2024 LS polls.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP said the issue with the BJP has always been that it does not understand Kerala, its culture, or its history.

"We have had more than 2,000 years of living together. Our relationship with each other is one of welcome and acceptance," Tharoor said.

He said Judaism came to Kerala 500 years before the birth of Christ, and with the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians, they were welcomed.

"Today, Jews tell me this is the only Jewish Diaspora that never knew a single instance of anti-Semitic persecution in the world. Similarly, Christianity came with St Thomas, St Thomas of the apostles, it was again welcomed and spread," Tharoor said.

"Then we had Islam coming, not by the sword. You see, the problem in the north is that they think their history is the only history. We have traders from the Arab world coming to Kerala centuries before the Prophet, and they brought the message of the Prophet as news from their peninsula," the Congress Working Committee (CWC) member said.

Recalling the history of peaceful co-existence in Kerala, Thaoor said that when the Muslim community was large enough to want a place of worship, the king gave them an old temple.

"Now we're not going to have a situation where some Hindu movement comes and says this used to be a temple and we want to knock down the mosque, we won't tolerate it, and that's not the way we behave. So I just want to say that, as far as Kerala is concerned, communalism cannot go beyond a very small limit," Tharoor said.

He said that we have already seen the BJP in Kerala reach that limit.

"In the two successive elections, their vote was between 12 and 13 per cent. I'll give Mr. Modi the credit that they went up from a 6 per cent party to a 12 -13 per cent party under him, but I think that's it; the ceiling has been reached," Tharoor said.

He said the BJP tried to reach out to the Christian community in Kerala, "but after the horrors in Manipur, there is very little receptibility to their approach."

"So I can assure you that, as far as the people of Kerala are concerned, the BJP is not likely to win any seats in the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala. And as I said, the two digits, Mr Modi, are going to be seen as zero and zero," Tharoor added.

About his possible candidature from the Thiruvananthapuram Parliamentary constituency, Tharoor said the Congress is yet to announce the candidates, and he has never said that he is not contesting.

"I'm doing my work as a sitting MP. I have responsibilities to my constituents, and I'm fulfilling those," Tharoor added.

With regard to the developments in Himachal Pradesh, Tharoor said he is not informed about the latest developments.

He said it was "really a very disappointing development in democracy" that a government elected less than a year ago with a clear majority can be "subverted in this way by undemocratic means," Tharoor said.

He said the country knows that the BJP is well funded, but this amounts to disgraceful misuse of both the money and the muscle power that the Central Government has.

Tharoor said he could not comment anything more by just reading the news headlines, but said it was highly unfortunate.

"I think that it is a betrayal of the people's mandate," Tharoor said, and alleged that a similar modus operandi was adopted by the BJP in Goa, Madhya Pradesh, and elsewhere.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 16:44 IST)

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