Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam, a former federal tourism minister and one of the most prominent faces of the BJP in the poll-bound state of Kerala, told Sputnik that he's confident his party vote percentage will increase dramatically. Back in 2016, during assembly elections, the BJP won only one seat out of 92, and its poll percentage was merely 10.53 percent.
Presently, the Communist Party of India–Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is governing the state. And the main opposition is the Congress-led United Democratic Fund (UDF).
Sputnik: The BJP has remained a minor force in the state. Will we see some significant changes in the electoral fortunes of the party in the 2021 assembly polls?
K.J. Alphons: For the past 65 years, the state has been ruled by the left and the Congress government. Look, what have they done in the state? There are no employment opportunities available in the state, and people go abroad for jobs.
Go to any corner of the country, and you'll find a Keralite [Kerala's people]. Despite having the country's best literacy rate among all states (96.2 percent), we are struggling to find decent jobs within the state. The Congress and Left have doomed the state.
Sputnik: What are the reasons behind your prediction that the party will do better this time?
K.J. Alphons: People had seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi's style of governance and his style of functioning as a chief minister when he was governing in the Indian state of Gujarat (2001-2014). People are assured that only Modi can bring changes to the state.
I'm the representative of Narendra Modi in the state, and they should vote for us.
I'm sure that our vote percentage and seats will increase drastically. I can't predict the exact number of seats we will win, but we will surprise everyone with our performance.
Sputnik: Why should people in the state vote for the BJP?
K.J. Alphons: People are looking for an alternative in the state and they don't want to vote for Congress and the BJP has emerged as that option.
Look at the performance of the BJP. In 2014, we ranked 142 in ease of doing business. In 2019, we stood 63rd. Businessmen, industrialists - they trust the Narendra Modi government and, soon after we will form a government in Kerala, we will change our policy and people will start investing in the state.
We're the fastest-growing economy in the world and that's all because of Narendra Modi. People should vote for a person who believes in doing.
Sputnik: The left government has clearly stated that the BJP adds communal colour to the election.
K.J. Alphons: People have been saying this about the BJP since it was formed in the 1980s, that we're a communal party. In 2014, when the BJP announced that its prime ministerial candidate would be Narendra Modi, they tried to scare off minorities.
They tried to scare off minorities by saying that Muslims, Christians will be eliminated once the BJP formed a government. This is all rubbish.
Since the formation of the BJP government in 2014, I haven't heard a single incident where any BJP leader attacked a mosque or church. Narendra Modi represents a clean administration with an impeccable record. Look at the record of the people who are trying to paint us with the communal brush. How [do] terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda* makes easy inroads in the state?
Unfortunately, the largest number of recruits in ISIS* [Daesh] in India happens to be from Kerala and it's not a coincidence, the left government has never taken any coercive step against them.
Sputnik: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has spent ample time in Kerala. Do you think his presence will attract voters towards Congress?
K.J. Alphons: Yes, Rahul Gandhi seems to be quite famous because of his poll stunts in the state. But, let's see what he has done in his poll campaign, last time he came to Kerala and swam in the river along with the fishermen, and after all, what did he catch?
Two tiny fish!
Isn't that funny? That's what Rahul Gandhi is all about. He's all about comics and drama and he's good at that. How do you expect anyone to take him seriously? He needs to grow up.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.