'Only when you are close to the party will you understand what the BJP stands for.'
When Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com spoke to A P Abdullahkutty in 2019, he had been expelled from the Congress for applauding Narendra Damodardas Modi's electoral win. He had not yet joined the Bharatiya Janata Party then, but there was talk of it happening.
Today, he is the BJP candidate for the parliamentary by-election in Malappuram.
Abdullahkutty started his political career as a Communist and when he was expelled from the Communist Party of India-Marxist for praising Modi in 2009, he joined the Congress and got elected as an MLA in 2009 and in 2011.
"After the 2021 assembly election, you will see a Congress-mukt Keralam," says Abdullahkutty.
You have been with the BJP for some time now. Are you happy?
Why do you ask such a question? I am very, very, happy.
If you ask me why I am happy, it is because though it is a bit late, I as a desiya Muslim have come to be part of a political party that is patriotic.
I am happy with the kind of inclusive developmental agenda followed by Narendra Modi and his government.
I am happy because the image of India is up in the skies today.
I am very, very, happy to be a small part of Narendra Modi's efforts to make India a global superpower, and also a $5 trillion economy.
Were you expecting to be nominated as a candidate for this by-election?
None of us expected a by-election now. So, my candidature also was unexpected.
You may know that Kunjalikutty Sahib (Indian Union Muslim League leader P K Kunjalikutty who resigned as the Malappuram MP to contest the assembly election) is suffering from a disease called hunger for power.
He resigned as an MLA and fought the Lok Sabha election, causing a by-election then. What has he done now? He has resigned as an MP and is fighting again in the assembly election.
Do you know how we describe this act? Making kanji in the pan you have already made biryani!
Some people have gone to the high court asking Kunjalikutty Sahib to pay from his pocket for both by-elections.
I would say this by-poll is unnecessarily created by a greedy politician. But I have entered the field with all honesty, feeling grateful to the party that has thrust upon me the job.
The BJP is perceived as a Hindu party. Did you ever feel that they are using you as a minority card to project the image of an inclusive party?
Absolutely not. It is wrong to say that the BJP is a party that is anti-Muslim. Only when you are close to the party, will you understand what the BJP stands for.
I will go on to say that this party is the direct inheritor of India's legacy and heritage.
The word Hindu is not a religion, it is a way of life, it is a culture. We were taught in school that our culture is one that embraces unity in diversity, and that is what the BJP also believes in.
Is there any other culture in the entire world that has welcomed people from all religions with open arms? From St Thomas to the Mughals to the Saurashtrians to the Dalai Lama, India has accepted everyone. When the entire world shunned the Jews, we welcomed them and even built synagogues for them.
This is not a culture perpetuated by the Congress party; this has been the Indian culture for thousands of years. This is the only culture that says, Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu (may everyone in the world be happy).
Why do you think there is reluctance among Keralites to accept the BJP?
Do you know even some Christian sabhas are declaring their support to us? Muslims also will start supporting the BJP soon.
In the governing council election in Ladakh where the majority of the population are Muslims, it was the BJP that won.
Though in a small way, we have started seeing support among the Muslims in Kerala also.
Opinion polls say that the BJP will not be able to make inroads in Kerala in the coming election.
Who says so? Let the real poll come. I am sure we will win. With this election, the BJP will become the party that will decide who should rule this state.
Do you think E Sreedharan joining the BJP will make a difference?
Definitely. As you know, he is a globally known technocrat, and when such a person has chosen the BJP as his party, it increases the credibility of the party. When he endorses an honest saint like Narendra Modi, it will have an impact on the educated population in Kerala.
How do you describe the Left Democratic Front rule? Do you think the people of Kerala are satisfied with the way Pinarayi Vijayan ruled the state in the last five years?
It is true that there was a lot of expectations when Pinarayi Vijayan came to power. But what has happened? Kerala has become a smuggler' paradise.
So, there is a lot of anger among the public against the party and the government.
Till now, Kerala has alternated between the LDF and the UDF, and that was why the state has failed miserably in development. While the rest of India is moving ahead rapidly in the field of IT, we are going backwards because of the frequent bandhs and hartals.
But the LDF performed extremely well in the local body elections...
You should understand that the local body election is not a political election. It is more of a personality driven election. Majority of the candidates fielded by the CPM were independents.
But the vote share of the BJP increased.
You should also understand that the Congress and the Communists had the Bengal model understanding to keep the BJP away.
So, I would not call it a success of the LDF at all; they were aided by the Congress.
Since you were part of both the CPM and also the Congress, you may know first-hand what happens within the party. A senior leader like P C Chacko resigned citing groupism in the state unit.
What do you think will happen to the Congress in Kerala?
After the 2021 assembly election, you will see a Congress-mukt Keralam. I think the Congress in Kerala will be a part of history.
Rahul Gandhi is disappointing people as a leader, and the groupism within the party will pave the way for its death.
You mean in future, the fight will be between the Left and the BJP in Kerala?
After this election not only will the Congress be dead, but the CPM will also break. There is a lot of anger within the party against Pinarayi's autocratic way of functioning. But the BJP will rise in stature.