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Shah to take up calf slaughter, meet bishops during Kerala trip

Shah to take up calf slaughter, meet bishops during Kerala trip
BJP chief Amit Shah is likely to flag the recent public slaughter of a calf by Youth Congress workers to consolidate his party's core constituency when he visits Left-ruled Kerala for three days from Friday.

He will also meet bishops as part of his efforts to win over a section of Christians.

Shah will meet bishops in Kochi tomorrow, underlining his party's efforts to build bridges with the minority community, which accounts for 18-20 per cent of votes in the southern state. The Hindu far right has often been at loggerheads with Christians over the hugely contentious issue of religious conversions.

The party's in-charge of the state H Raja said the meeting is aimed at "understanding each other" and added that Shah will undertake an "in-depth" analysis of the organisational work in the state during his three-day stay. The public butchering of a calf by Youth Congress leaders in the state last week to protest the Centre's ban on sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter has come handy for him and he is likely to target the Congress, which has been on the defensive over the issue.

However, it will be a tricky matter for the party as beef is widely consumed in the state and a strident stand on the matter is unlikely to be of much help, especially while it attempts to woo Christians.

It has also been trying to cosy up to Kerala Congress (M), a former Congress ally that enjoys substantial following among Christians.

Many BJP leaders believe that it is imperative for the organisation to win over a section of minority votes to emerge as a potent force in a state where Hindu votes are about 55 per cent. Muslims constitute about 26-27 per cent of the electorate. Shah will also hold meetings with BJP allies, leaders of various communities and influential people, besides interacting with organisation leaders to take stock of its work and lay out its future plans.

Kerala is important in the BJP's strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as Shah expects to win a chunk of its 21 seats after the party increased its vote share substantially to 16 per cent in the 2016 assembly polls. It, however, could win only one seat. It had drawn a blank in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
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