October 27, 2020
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First Modi, Now Yogi -- Why Is It Tough For The BJP To Woo Keralites?

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First Modi, Now Yogi -- Why Is It Tough For The BJP To Woo Keralites?
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First Modi, Now Yogi -- Why Is It Tough For The BJP To Woo Keralites?

The Bhartiya Janta Party got it wrong. Again. 

A year after the Prime Minister bore the brunt of the Malayalis’ anger for comparing the state to Somalia, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath made another blunder on Wednesdaywhen he commented on the state's healthcare system and suggested it to learn from his cow belt state on how to run hospitals. 

The Uttar Pradesh CM, who was in Kannur yesterday to take part in the BJP's 'Jana Raksh Yatra', had alleged that medical facilities in Kerala were "inadequate."

Adityanath had said that Kerala should learn from UP how to run its hospitals, commenting on the number of deaths due to dengue and chikunguniya in the state.

Flashback May 2016 when Modi made statements on the same lines, going so far to say that the "infant mortality rate among the Scheduled Tribe community in Kerala is worse than Somalia".

Factually, Kerala had brought down the Infant Mortality Rate to 6 per 1,000 births, as good as that in the US and not Somalia as declared by the Prime Minister. Of course, there are pockets of tribal areas where the mortality rates could be higher than rest of the state. But What the Prime Minister and Yogi don’t realize is that Keralites are extremely proud of their achievements in human development indices, and any attempt to besmirch it is considered as confrontational. Whether it is literacy, e-literacy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, birth rate, life expectancy or female literacy, Kerala is ahead of the rest of India.

On the face of such comments, then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had sought a legal option against the controversial comments and the CPI(M) gave a tongue -in-cheek response to Modi’s statement, saying the state has never seen the fate of Somalia because the BJP has never ruled there. Global news channels like the BBC too reported the news. 

BJP has been slogging for years to gain electorally in Kerala. But going to Kerala without doing homework about what are the relevant issues could backfire in future. The template strategy which BJP applies across northern states wouldn’t work in Kerala because some of the welfare ideas that they sell in the underdeveloped northern states had become a reality in Kerala ages ago.

The classic misfire was Yogi’s comments on Kerala’s healthcare system. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan replied to it by sharing a report that states Kerala's Infant Mortality Rate to be as low as 10 where the whole country's stands at 34 and UP 43. 

Reacting to Yogi’s suggestion of looking up to UP for tips, Vijayan said, "The Infant Mortality Rate in Kerala is 10 while the national average is 34 and in Uttar Pradesh, it is 43."

He didn't stop at just that. The Kerala CM said it "amused" him that the UP chief minister found time for Kerala despite "problems" in his own land.

"It really amuses me that you (Yogi Adityanath) found time for Kerala, despite the fact that a large number of problems exist in UP as per newspaper reports."

Uttar Pradesh with Yogi Adityanath at its helm, is in a grip of problems refusing to cease, especially with respect to healthcare. More than 1,000 children have died in a state-run Gorakhpur hospital in 2017. 

In case the BJP leaders are wondering how to win over Keralites, there is a suggestion. The first step is to help others understand your intentions. 

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