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BJP vs CPM violence in Kerala: Left smells conspiracy to dislodge Pinarayi govt

In the current tension between the Pinarayi Vijayan government and the BJP government at the Centre the Left sees parallels to the situation in 1959 when the Centre dissolved the EMS government in Kerala

analysis Updated: Aug 01, 2017 22:58 IST
Viju Cherian
Viju Cherian
Hindustan Times
Political killings,God’s Own Country,Kerala
On Monday Vijayan met with the RSS and BJP leaders and to a certain extent tensions have been diffused. The Kerala government has decided to call an all-party meet on Sunday and also hold several district-level bilateral meetings between the CPI(M) and the BJP/RSS before Sunday (File Photo)(PTI)

Kerala is back in the news, and this time for the wrong reasons.

The state has been witnessing widespread tension and violence after the killing of E Rajesh, a 34-year-old RSS activist, in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. On Saturday, Rajesh was on his way home after attending an RSS unit meeting when he was attacked by a group of men. Rajesh later died in a private hospital. The BJP, protesting Rajesh’s killing, called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal on Sunday.

Incidences of violence reported from several parts of the state exposed the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s failure to maintain law and order. The BJP, which called for the hartal, is also responsible for not ensuring a peaceful protest.

“If our workers are involved in any violence, we are ready to take responsibility for that,” MT Ramesh, general secretary of the BJP state unit told Hindustan Times. “But one should also consider the circumstances in which the hartal was called.”

Attacks on the party offices and houses of both the CPI(M) and BJP workers, before and after the hartal, have heightened tensions in the state, and it is in the light of these developments that the governor, P Sathashivam, summoned chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and DGP Loknath Behara.

This level of political rivalry and brutality is associated with the northern parts of the state, in the Malabar region, where RSS and Left activists often clash — not with Kerala’s capital city.

So why has Thiruvananthapuram become a Left-BJP/RSS flashpoint?

The BJP feels that this is because the party is growing. “The BJP is becoming the most powerful party in the state capital. A lot of new people, especially from the marginalised communities, are joining the BJP. The Left wants to stop this through intimidation and violence,” says Ramesh.

Author and social commentator Paul Zacharia agrees with this view: “I’m not surprised that Thiruvananthapuram is the latest flashpoint because the BJP has perhaps grown the quickest in Kerala in this district.”

The Left, however, sees the hand of the Centre in recent developments. “Behind the developments in Thiruvananthapuram there is the agenda of the BJP-led central government. This is because the government in Kerala is one of the few that does not toe the Centre’s line,” says Pannyan Raveendran, a national executive member of the CPI.

The Congress-led Opposition suspects hidden motives behind current tension. “The BJP wants to conceal the [medical college] scam that has hit the party, while the CPI(M) government wants to hide its administrative failures,” Ramesh Chennithala, Opposition leader in the Kerala assembly told Hindustan Times.

Parties might differ on the reasons behind it, but all agree that Thiruvananthapuram is seeing an unusual level of political hostility and violence, with the national media and the Centre taking note of the situation.

The Left smells a sinister plot

The Left parties see a sinister plot in the Centre taking a keen interest in the state’s affair.

“Just like the Congress was scared of the Communists in 1957, the BJP is scared of the Left in 2017. In 1957, of the 14 states in India then, the Congress was in power in 13, and Kerala was the only exception. The Centre worked towards removing the Communist government and succeeded in 1959. This is indicative of what is happening now. One of the few governments to oppose the BJP today is the LDF in Kerala,” says Raveendran.

Raveendran’s is not a lone voice. While addressing party cadre in February, Vijayan had said that no group should keep “hopes” of destabilising his government. At the same function CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury compared the CIA’s efforts against Communist governments to that of the BJP and RSS’ to “disband” the Left government in Kerala.

The Congress feels that the LDF government has failed, but, it is against the Centre’s intervention of any sort. “Even though the LDF has failed on many fronts, we cannot allow Centre’s intervention in the state,” says Chennithala.

Zacharia, however, rubbishes this theory. “It’s too simplistic, predictable and an easy reason to give. Such an excuse would be a reflection that the Pinarayi Vijayan government is not in charge of affairs in the state.”

Now what is the way forward from here?

On Monday Vijayan met with the RSS and BJP leaders and to a certain extent tensions have been diffused. The Kerala government has decided to call an all-party meet on Sunday and also hold several district-level bilateral meetings between the CPI(M) and the BJP/RSS before Sunday.

The Congress feels that it is a lack of political will that has brought things to such a pass. “If Pinarayi Vijayan and [BJP state president] Kummanam Rajasekharan want, they can defuse the situation in an hour’s time,” says Chennithala.

Zacharia is not so hopeful. “The Left is not really in charge of its cadre and that’s why we see some of these incidents are happening. Gone are the days when a diktat was followed by the cadre.”

BJP’s Ramesh feels that the ball is in the government’s court. “We have put forward our demands [at the Monday meeting]. It is now for the government to act.”

All sides agree that violence is not the way ahead.

“The government should sternly deal with any form of violence. This trend of ‘Kolakathi Rashtriyam’ (politics with a bloodied knife) must stop and the concerned parties must work towards it. They should control their cadre for peace to prevail,” Ravindran told HT.

The question is: Is anybody listening?


First Published: Aug 01, 2017 11:29 IST