Pinarayi rubs it in

New Delhi: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday described the by-election result in Vengara, where the BJP has been pushed to fourth position with a reduced vote share, as a warning to the party that "they cannot mess with Kerala".

While runner-up CPM has narrowed its defeat margin against Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League in its citadel, the BJP has lost its traditional third spot despite its ongoing Janaraksha Yatra in the state.

Pinarayi, on his first visit to Delhi after the Sangh parivar's high-decibel campaign projecting Kerala as a hotbed of "jihadi-Left" terror, said the BJP had tried several "dirty tricks" to polarise the voters along communal lines but had been shown its place.

He invited journalists to visit Kerala and find out "independently" whether the narrative being "orchestrated" by the BJP was true.

"There is a planned campaign against the state," the chief minister told a media conclave organised by the Delhi Union of Journalists along with the National Alliance of Journalists on the dangers to democracy and unethical reporting.

He added that sections in the national media were complicit in it.

Pinarayi acknowledged the role played by Malayalis across party lines, through social media campaigns, in countering the slander against the state, part of a "boycott Kerala'' programme aimed at hurting its tourism industry.

"People from other states are being asked not to come to Kerala to bring our tourism industry to a standstill,'' he said.

Such a malicious campaign might affect Kerala's economy to an extent, he added, pinning the blame for any possible slowdown on the BJP.

"It is clear that those behind such fake news have no regard for the lives and livelihoods of the people of Kerala," he said.

Pinarayi projected Kerala as the voice of resistance against communalism and crony capitalism.

He cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comparison of Kerala to Somalia on the basis of infant mortality rates last year, adding that actual data showed that it was Modi's home state that was closer to the African country on this parameter.

Pinarayi listed the various efforts made by the BJP to disturb communal harmony in Kerala. He cited how the ongoing Janaraksha Yatra had been routed through election-bound Vengara.

"Despite all these dirty tricks, the BJP has been relegated to fourth with a much reduced vote share."

The BJP is preparing to wrap up the yatra on Tuesday as scheduled. It will once again bring a media contingent from Delhi, this time for the closing rally that is to be presided over by party chief Amit Shah.

Shah, who had launched the march on October 3, had cut that earlier visit short by two days, triggering speculation that this was because of the lack of response the event was drawing locally.


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