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‘Communists in Kerala are not in touch with common man’s thinking’

V Muraleedharan talks about political violence in Kerala and the BJP’s blueprint for expansion in the state.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2018 07:56 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Former state unit president and member of BJP’s national executive committee V Muraleedharan
Former state unit president and member of BJP’s national executive committee V Muraleedharan

After winning its first ever assembly seat in the Communist bastion of Kerala in 2016, the BJP is confident of bettering its performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Recent allegations of corruption against state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Binoy Balakrishnan and the controversy over assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan seeking a reimbursement of a pair of spectacles for nearly Rs50,000 have given the BJP an opportunity to target the CPI (M) government in the state. In an interview, former state unit president and member of national executive committee V Muraleedharan talks about the saffron party’s blueprint for expansion in the Red bastion.

In the last assembly election your party’s vote share went up from 6.3% in 2011 to nearly 16% and the party won its first seat. How are you preparing for the 2019 general elections?

The CPI(M) government has been in power for almost two years and has turned out to be a very big disappointment. There was euphoria among party cadres about the return of the party to power, because the government led by Oomen Chandy of the Congress was considered to be the most corrupt and controversial.

Riding on the disenchantment against the Congress, CPI(M) came to power and announced Pinarayi Vijayan as the chief minister.

Their slogan was ‘we will set everything right’, but things have only worsened. There are allegations of corruption and this is the first time in the state that within a gap of two years, four ministers have had to resign on charges of corruption, nepotism and obscenity.

The Congress, as the principal opposition is still a sleep-mode; this has created an atmosphere favourable for the BJP.

In 2014, the CPI(M) and Congress were somehow able to convince the people of Kerala that BJP was not going to come to power and that Narendra Modi would have no appeal as the prime ministerial candidate. That won’t work in 2019.

The party and the RSS have accused the CPI(M) cadre of attacking their works; there was an all party meeting, yet there has been no end to the bloodshed.

This (violence) cannot end unless the Kerala government decides or CPI(M) accepts the stand that they should be tolerant towards their opponents and allow for democratic functioning. CPI(M) will have to accept that even in their stronghold, those who disagree with them have the right to express their opinion, which is being denied now and is the cause of the violence.

Your opponents accuse the party of stoking communal violence and of using issues such as love jihad and reports of the indoctrination of Muslim youth to leverage its position in the state.

There is not even an iota of truth in these allegations. The issue of love jihad was raised by the CPI(M) first. The changes in demography were first raised by [former CM] V Achuthanandan when he was the opposition leader.  The so-called cases of love jihad reached courts through parents of girls who either through pressure or other means were forced to marry Muslims. The BJP and Sangh Parivaar have no role in this, it is not our game plan.

As for beef consumption, there is no ban on it and we have said let the rule of the land prevail. We don’t want these issues to be a major [poll] plank. 

Then what will be the poll planks for the Lok Sabha elections?

Our poll planks will be corruption; on that issue there is no difference between the Congress and the CPI(M).

The other issue is that the Kerala government has failed to have a plan for livelihood of those Keralites who work abroad and sustain their families through the money they send. There are no industries, no jobs for these people if they come back. Also, Kerala is moving backward on several fronts such as education and women safety; in the list of ease of doing business, Kerala has moved from the 20th spot to the 21st.

You recently said Kerala is a fertile ground for Jihadi groups.

In any incident that is reported in India or abroad, you find a Kerala link. Recently, the NIA caught some people getting trained here. The reason is the political patronage given [to them] by both CPI(M) and Congress in league with the Muslim League. We feel that the government and the Opposition have to take a clear stand on not supporting any organisation with connection with terrorism.

What is your assessment of the Left’s political future? 

The communists are not in touch with the thinking of the common man. The problem with the CPI(M) is there is a disconnect between what they preach and what they practice. Earlier, they were known for their simplicity and austerity, now that is also gone. They are losing support and unless they mend their ways they will be one of the mainstream, otherwise they have no future.