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Modi woos Dalits

Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 9: Narendra Modi today flaunted his backward caste origins to woo Dalits in Kerala, attacked Sonia Gandhi over her “poison’’ barb and taunted the Left saying a “third alternative” was needed in the southern state where the Congress and the communists “were hand in glove”.

The BJP mascot even managed to win hearts in a section of the Church with a senior priest announcing he will be happy to see Modi as Prime Minister.

Modi first spoke in Kochi at a Kayal Sammelanam (Lake Conference) of the Scheduled Caste Pulaya community. “This is my extended family… the Dalits, weak, oppressed, backward, tribals… I was born in their midst and grew up in their midst. I feel I should give priority to this family of mine.’’

Modi didn’t forget to highlight his modest roots, recalling how “my mother used to clean vessels and I used to sell tea in rail bogies’’. He said he had spoken against untouchability “right from childhood”. He took a dig at the Kochi mayor, a Congress leader, for not attending the event and sought to link it to the issue he was speaking on. “I’m still a victim of (political) untouchability.”

After the Congress mayor, the next target was Sonia Gandhi’s recent remarks that the BJP and Modi were indulging in zeher ki kheti (sowing seeds of poison).

Modi said “those indulging in vote bank politics were experts in harvesting poison”. “After 100 days, there is going to be a change of government in Delhi. The new government will pack off all those harvesting poison. And then there will be harvest of nectar, brotherhood, goodwill and unity.”

Later in the evening in state capital Thiruvananthapuram, Modi took potshots at the state’s two main political players — the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front and CPM-led Left Democratic Front. “You have seen the UDF and heard the stories of LDF’s Third Front. So I appeal to you to forget both. What Kerala requires is a third alternative and that is what the BJP is offering.’’

The BJP is yet to open its account in Kerala — it has no Assembly or Lok Sabha seat.

“You have been suffering this for 60 years. How long more?’’ Modi asked the crowd of a few lakhs.