As it looks to reach out to Dalits in Kerala, BJP will have Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading those efforts next week when he takes part in the 152nd birth anniversary celebrations of Dalit icon Ayyankali.
Modi will be chief guest at a programme being jointly organised here on September 8 by the National Scheduled Caste Morcha of BJP and Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha (KPMS), a Dalit organisation once close to CPI(M) in Kerala, BJP state chief V Muraleedharan told PTI.
Stating that both Congress and CPI(M) have been trying to portray BJP as a "pro-upper caste party", Muraleedharan said the programme dedicated to Ayyankali would be a fitting reply to these rival parties.
"It (the function) will be a setback for Congress and CPI(M), who have been trying to portray BJP as a pro-upper caste organisation... (It will be) a fitting reply," he said.
Ayyankali, who was born in 1863 in the erstwhile Travancore kingdom, organised Dalits and fought against the discrimination to which the community was subjected. He led movements against the 'Manusmriti' colour system and casteism in Kerala where Dalit children were not allowed to study in schools.
Muraleedharan said the programme has "great political significance" as KPMS, once considered to be a Leftist organisation, is now joining hands with the BJP's SC Morcha for the event.
"A major chunk of the people belonging to SC communities in Kerala have shifted loyalty to BJP. It is evident from the results of the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls," Muraleedharan said.
He said that BJP's vote share in Kerala has risen to 10.3 per cent in the 2014 general elections from 6.4 per cent in the previous polls and it is the "reflection of the change happening in Hindu society" in the state.
He said the party is hoping to open its account in the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in Kerala in 2016.
"BJP has been trying to make inroads among the SCs as well as the other sections of Hindu society in Kerala and the birth anniversary celebrations of Ayyankali is another step in this direction," the BJP leader said.
Modi had addressed a large function of KPMS in Kochi on his visit to Kerala before the Lok Sabha polls.