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Hurt, Kannur curses bloody polls

A poster, a defaced wall or just a fiery speech is enough for a fresh bout of violence, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: May 01, 2006 10:06 IST

They curse elections here. In Kannur, just a spark is needed for a full-fledged battle. People know that polls add fuel to the politics of violence.

A missing poster, a defaced wall or even a fiery speech is enough for a fresh bout.

Enough blood has flown in Thalasserry, the epicentre of red-saffron clashes. The RSS and CPM have been battling for supremacy for last three decades.

A teacher hacked before his students and a student leader stabbed to death in his bed — gory tales aplenty. Two hundred odd political murders later people of the area are still counting.

Many maimed and crippled roam around as a grim reminder of the politics of intolerance. In many villages, flags, posters or notices of opponents are not welcome. Candidates dread to enter rival villages and many polling booths go without agents.

Fifteen constituencies in Kannur and Kasargode stand out from the rest. Dubbed highly sensitive, the EC has reserved the third and final leg for these 15 seats. Though the EC has taken steps to ensure free and fair polls, the voters are worried.

"I was threatened I would not go alive from Thalasserry after May 3 polls. My campaign managers have been attacked many times," Rajmohan Unnithan, Congress candidate from Thalasserry tells a motley crowd in Kadirur.

One of the red fortresses of Malabar, Thalasserry, which was represented by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, EK Nayanar and litterateur SK Pottakkad, is now giving the comrades sleepless nights. Though the BJP has put up its candidate, the RSS has thrown its weight behind the Congress candidate.

"The RSS and Congress are spreading canards to scare voters. Law and order is perfect here," says CPM candidate Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

For the comrades, Kannur is what Nagpur is to saffron forces. Feudalism, economic backwardness and a caste system helped them. By the fifties, it turned a red fortress and produced Marxist leaders like AK Gopalan, EK Nayanar and KPR Gopalan.

In the early sixties the RSS, with the blessings of the Mangalore business lobby, started sneaking into Communist strongholds. Many Communists were induced by the saffron wave.

The uneasy relations between the two took a bloody turn with the death of Vadikkal Ramakrishnan in 1968, the first political murder. Since then it has been an eye-for-eye politics here.

More than 60 per cent of the killed RSS men were ex-Communists.

Stringent punishments and effective policing have brought things to normal. But the high-pitched poll campaigning and loud war cries make people nervous.

First Published: May 01, 2006 10:03 IST