His legs were chopped off by Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers 20 years ago but it failed to dampen C Sadanandan’s spirits.
Walking around in artificial limbs, the 51-year-old has been fielded by the BJP in the politically volatile Koothuparambha constituency in Kannur district, a north Kerala region notorious for red-saffron clashes.
“When people see me in front of their eyes, they realise the futility of political intolerance. People who talk against fascism are resorting to fascist tendencies too often. I will be happy if my candidature leaves a message against violence,” said the high school teacher.
Life turned topsy-turvy for Sadanandan, a former RSS district functionary, in 1994. When he was returning home on January 24 he was waylaid by a group of CPI(M) workers. “They threw me face down on the road and chopped my both legs with an axe. After chopping my legs they threw them to the opposite side of the road shouting I shouldn’t walk again in life,” he said.
The dispute between the red and saffron camps in the district has claimed at least 300 lives in the past three decades. In February, an RSS activist was hacked to death in front of his parents in Kannur, triggering tensions.
The BJP plans to use Sadanandan to bring wider focus to the violence and gain a few seats in Kerala’s 140-member legislature, where it has traditionally been weak. The Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front are the main players in the state.
“People are fed up with recurring cycle of violence. I agree there were retaliatory attacks also. CPI-M has a habit of pushing its opponents to the wall where the only option is give in or fight back,” he said.