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BJP leaders of south look towards Advani

George Iype in Kochi | March 02, 2004 18:19 IST

Hours after Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani announced an 'India Shining' rath yatra as part of the poll campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in the southern India states plunged into hectic planning and schedules for Advani's electioneering.

"This will be the best election campaign in the country. We are all geared up for organising the various meetings that Advaniji will address across the southern states," said Karnataka BJP president Ananth Kumar.

Advani will start the BJP's poll campaign from Kanyakumari on March 10. The journey will initially go through the four southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Pon Radhakrishnan says he will remain in his constituency Nagercoil preparing for Advani's inaugural campaign.

"We are thankful to Advaniji for launching the BJP's election campaign from Kanyakumari," the BJP leader from Tamil Nadu said.

Radhakrishnan said that with this Lok Sabha election the southern states will 'completely become a BJP bastion'.

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"There is a BJP wave already across the country. It is very evident in all the places I am travelling to these days," the Nagercoil MP said.

Advani's first phase of 'India Shining' rath yatra will stretch from Kanyakumari, reaching Amritsar on March 26. Advani will embark on the second phase from Porbandar in Gujarat on March 30, reaching Puri in Orissa on April 14.

The party's Kerala president P S Sreedharan Pillai says Advani's poll journey will make a 'radical difference in the voting pattern of Kerala'.

"We hope BJP's lotus will bloom in Kerala. We are sure to open an account in the state in this Lok Sabha election. And Advanji is the best leader who can make it happen," Pillai said.

Kerala is the only state in southern India that the BJP has not been able to win either an assembly or Lok Sabha seats all these years. Therefore the BJP state leadership thinks the very fact that Advani decided to launch the poll campaign from the South means the party leadership has 'Kerala in its radar'.

"Advaniji's yatra will be the best route for the BJP to win over the Kerala voters. I am sure the Kerala voters will be enthused and politically motivated to vote for the BJP all because of Advaniji," Pillai said.

Though the BJP will be putting up candidates in all the 20 constituencies in Kerala, it is hopeful that it will open its account in the Trivandrum Lok Sabha seat. Minister of State for Railways O Rajagopal will be contesting from the constituency.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha election Rajagopal contested from Trivandrum but was defeated by the Congress candidate V S Shivakumar. "This time, we are confident that we will bag the Trivandrum seat," Pillai said.

After his inaugural meet in Kanyakumari, Advani will address a series of meetings across Trivandrum. "We have prepared Advaniji's poll campaign plans in Kerala. We are all geared up for the big fight because winning a seat in Kerala is a prestigious issue for the BJP," Pillai added.

Kumar said the Karnataka BJP is also all geared up to fight the polls. In the 1999 Lok Sabha election the BJP won five seats. "We hope to win the majority seats in Karnataka this time both in the parliamentary and the assembly elections," Kumar pointed out.

Similarly Radhakrishnan said the BJP with its electoral ally All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will 'sweep the polls in Tamil Nadu'.

"We are delighted that Advaniji is launching the party's election campaign from Tamil Nadu. It will make a great impact on our electoral prospects in the state," Radhakrishnan added.

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