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Thursday, April 12, 2001

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BJP working out poll strategy

By Ignatius Pereira

KOLLAM, APRIL 11. With the hope of opening its account in the Assembly by all means, the BJP Central leadership is working out an area-specific strategy for the State.

While the final shape to the strategy would be given only after the announcement of the full list, initial steps have already been taken. The leadership is of the view that the party has a handsome following in the State and that in those constituencies where the BJP has a strong presence, victory is certain if neutral votes are tapped in right earnest.

Despite the party treasurer, Mr. V.P. Goyal, who is in charge of election-related aspects of the State, finalising the list of candidates for 111 constituencies, the decision not to announce the full list on Tuesday is part of this strategy.

For this, the constituencies from where the party is putting up candidates are classified into four categories--`A', `B-plus', `B' and `C'.

The list announced on Tuesday comprises only those falling under the `A' and `B-plus' category. The constituencies under the `A' category would be those where the party would concentrate heavily, with the hope of either a victory or the second position.

There are 11 constituencies marked under the `A' category and these have been identified as Manjeswaram (Mr. C.K. Padmanabhan), Kasaragod (Mr. P.K. Krishnadas), Peringulam (Mr. P. Sathyaprakash), Kunnamangalam (Mr. P.K. Velayudhan), Palakkad (Ms. Reena Reghunathan), Mattancherry (Mr. K.T. Sajeev), Chengannur (Mr. M.T. Ramesh), Aranmula (Mr. V.N. Unni), Thiruvananthapuram North (Mr. K. Sankaranarayana Pillai), Thiruvananthapuram-East (Mr. B.K. Shekar) and Nemon (Mr. M.S. Kumar).

Of these, the Central leadership is highly hopeful of registering victory in Manjeswaram and Thiruvananthapuram North. The State president is the candidate at Manjeswaram and the nominee for Thiruvananthapuram North is a party independent.

The BJP national general secretary, Mr. Devadas Apte, will be in overall charge of these 11 constituencies. Mr. Apte is arriving in Kerala on Friday for a preliminary tour of these constituencies.

Mr. Apte, who will go back to Delhi on April 18 with an ad hoc report, would return on April 24 and begin concentrating on the `A' category constituencies and leave for Delhi only on May 10. Top party leaders including Mr. L.K. Advani, Mr. Pramod Mahajan and Mr. Arun Jaitley will conduct election tours in the State. Besides, leaders of other constituents in the NDA would also campaign.

Party sources said that the possibility of the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, also making a tour of the State is being worked out.

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