And the strategy the BJP has hit upon is the same which it tried in Tripura successfully: engineer defections from Congress. The party has embarked upon its latest ‘operation poaching’ with alacrity.

As part of the strategy, BJP thinktanks and strategists have singled out a few vulnerable Congress leaders, including MLAs from the state. And the Congress leader who is in the limelight these days in this connection is former MLA, K. Sudhakaran. The Congress strongman in Kannur has, of course, denied harbouring any intention to join the BJP. He has, however, admitted that BJP president Amit Shah’s emissaries had approached him sometime back with an offer.

And Sudhakaran’s statements thereafter had caused concern among the top Congress leaders in Kerala. Nobody, including Sudhakaran, would join the BJP, asserted leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee(KPCC) president M M Hassan.

However, these brave pronouncements on the part of the Congress leaders have not stilled the speculation about the possibility of a few Cngress leaders hopping on to the BJP bandwagon in the days ahead. And Sudhakaran is not the only vulnerable Congress leader. Among the other Congress leaders who are being targeted are party MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor and MLA VS Shivakumar.

Be that as it may, the ground reality being what it is, the BJP leaders know jolly well that Kerala is a different ball game altogether. The kind of wholesale defection of Congress witnessed in Tripura is simply out of question I Kerala for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, Kerala remains one of the few states where the Congress is still a force to reckon with and which has a chance to bounce back to power. Moreover, if Congress leaders in Kerala do a Tripura in the State, they run the risk of alienating the sizable minority vote base which the party still enjoys despite the latest setbacks. That is a luxury the Congress in Kerala cannot afford at this crucial juncture.

The reason why the BJP has chosen to repeat its Tripura experiment in Kerala is not difficult to divine. The BJP knows that there is no way it can grow by implementing its UP strategy of ensuring communal polarization in Kerala. Therefore, the party has decided to take the easy route: of engineering defections from the Congress. That way, BJP spin doctors hope, the party can become the Number two party in the state challenging the CPI(M)’s supremacy. But the BJP leaders must know one thing: Kerala is not Tripura.

Having said that, it must also be mentioned that the Congress in Kerala cannot afford to lower its guard. That there are a number of party leaders who are not averse to the idea of crossing over to the BJP is clear. That is why the BJP strategists are on the job of wooing the weak and vulnerable Congress leaders. The Congress leadership in the state will have to go beyond mere issuing of statements from time to time that everything is hunky dory in the party and that the BJP’s poaching game would come a cropper.

Meanwhile, the BJP in the state has just suffered a major setback and embarrassment with its only ally, Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena(BDJS) openly airing its anger over the BJP’s raw deal. Speculation is rife that the BDJS is close to quitting the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance(NDA) in Kerala. The NJP has in fact snubbed its ally by denying it a Rajya Sabha seat. In the wake of the latest rebuff, the pressure on the BDJS to sever its ties with the BJP has mounted. (IPA Service)