The presence of the relatives of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar of Hyderabad University who committed suicide last month, in Muslim League’s ‘Kerala yatra’, has baffled many including Left parties.
Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula, brother Raj Vemula and their family friends attended the concluding session of the yatra led by state industry minister and League leader PK Kuhalikutty on Shangumugam beach in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.
“We are still facing threat to our life. We came here to express solidarity with the League which is fighting for minority community members and other backward people,” said Raj Vemula, adding that politics was not involved in their visit. He reiterated that their struggle would continue till the resignation of two central ministers.
But Left leaders fear that their presence would help the ruling UDF. In fact, Left student unions were spearheading agitation on many campuses across the country alleging victimisation of Dalit and backward students after his death.
“We are really shocked. We have no idea how a party with communal background managed to rope in close relatives of Vemula. It is real setback for progressive outfits,” said a senior leader of the CPI(M).
However, League leaders said it would help them float a secular democratic platform. “Their presence is a big boost to us. We will take a lead in forging an alliance with minorities and Dalits,” said minister Kunhalikutty.
Of late, League has been trying hard for a pan-India presence. Political observers see it as a move to checkmate plans of Salahuddin Owaisi, chief of the Hyderabad-based Majlis Ittihadul Muslimeen Party, to expand his base. In Bihar assembly elections, Owasi had fielded many candidates.
Muslim League is the second-largest UDF partner after Congress with two Lok Sabha MPs and a RS member from the state. An also-ran in many other states the party is desperately trying to strengthen its base outside Kerala. Recently the party had a launched a nationwide signature campaign against the move to implement common civil code in the country.