E Sreedharan's entry into BJP a 'gimmick': Tariq Anwar

Sreedharan's entry a 'gimmick'; BJP will remain marginal player in Kerala: Cong's Tariq Anwar

Talking about the BJP's big ticket launch of the 88-year-old technocrat, Anwar claimed the BJP always uses such tactics as it does not have a strong leadership in Kerala

Representative image/Credit: DH File Photo

Terming technocrat E Sreedharan's entry into the BJP a "gimmick", Congress' Kerala in-charge Tariq Anwar on Sunday said it would be a direct fight between the UDF and the ruling LDF in the upcoming assembly polls as the people will not "waste" their votes on the BJP which will remain a marginal player in the state.

The Congress general secretary also asserted that it was not the party's tradition to announce a chief ministerial face and after polls the name of the CM candidate will be arrived at through consensus.

In an interview with PTI, Anwar exuded confidence that the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) would form the next government in Kerala and stated that the main issue in polls would be the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government's "corruption and mismanagement" in the last five years.

"The results will be in UDF's favour. People had given mandate to the LDF last time but their performance in the last five years has not been good and three-four scandals have also been unearthed recently in which even the CPI(M) office has come under suspicion," the AICC in-charge Kerala said.

Talking about other issues that would hurt the LDF's chances in the upcoming polls, Anwar said recently an MoU signed with an American firm has created a lot of dissatisfaction among fishermen and so has the "mismanagement" of Covid-19.

"Conditions are in favour of the UDF as there is strong anti-incumbency of the five years," the former Union minister said, adding that corruption and mismanagement will be the main issues in the assembly polls.

The LDF government had said it had done great work during Covid-19 and the health system is very good, but the way the cases are rising all its claims have been proven wrong, Anwar said.

Asked about 'Metro Man' E Sreedharan's entry into the BJP and its impact on the polls, he said, "I don't think it will have much of an impact because he may be a good technocrat but he does not have much of a rapport with the public."

"The people of Kerala are very politically conscious and I don't think suddenly bringing up a name would make much of a difference," he asserted.

Talking about the BJP's big ticket launch of the 88-year-old technocrat, Anwar claimed the BJP always uses such tactics as it does not have a strong leadership in Kerala.

The BJP's presence is minuscule, so they want to make their presence felt by such "gimmicks", he said, adding that the saffron party will remain a marginal player in the state.

"It will be a direct fight between LDF and UDF. Last time, the BJP had invested resources heavily in Kerala but despite that they had a low vote percentage," Anwar said.

"This time we expect the BJP not to get even less because Kerala people know that the fight is between LDF and UDF so people would not like to waste their votes," he said.

'Metroman' Sreedharan formally joined the BJP last Thursday at a meeting organised at Changaramkulam as the "Vijay Yatra" led by Kerala BJP chief K Surendran reached there.

Addressing the meeting, Sreedharan had said it is one of the greatest moments in his life and also thanked Surendran for giving him an opportunity to work for the BJP.

Asked if the Congress is going to rely on Rahul Gandhi for being the face of its campaign and canvass aggressively in Kerala, Anwar said, "Rahul is hugely popular in Kerala. If we look at the Lok Sabha result last time, since Rahul fought election from there, it had a major impact and we won 19 out of 20 seats. If he campaigns and concentrates heavily on Kerala, it would make a huge difference."

On the party deciding not to announce a CM face before polls, he said it was Congress' tradition not to declare a chief ministerial face before polls.

"After polls, according to the results, through consensus, the choice of the leader will be made," Anwar said.

Asked about Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's remarks accusing Rahul Gandhi of "speaking in the same tone" as of Uttar Pradesh CM and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath against his government, he said nobody will believe this charge as the Congress has a history that it cannot have any understanding with communal forces.

Rahul Gandhi is leading a frontal attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi which not only the Congress but other opposition parties are also recognising and praising, Anwar asserted.

He said such statements show that the LDF is "nervous"

They don't have the confidence in their Front it seems, he added.

The Congress leader exuded confidence in the UDF securing a comfortable majority and said its aim was to get a two-thirds majority so that it can provide a stable government that works freely for the development of the state.

Anwar said talks were on for sealing the seat-sharing deal among UDF constituents and 50 per cent of the things had been finalised.

Polling in Kerala for 140 seats of the Assembly will take place in a single phase on April 6. Counting for the assembly polls in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry will take place on May 2.

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