The street fights between the thugs of CPM and RSS-BJP in Kerala bring to my mind a little story I had once narrated to a room full of teachers and students.
It’s this: When God created what is now Kerala and blessed it with magnificent greenery and picturesque backwaters, the people of the neighbouring regions got very jealous. They made a beeline to God, complaining of his disproportionate distribution of nature’s beauty.
Then God sat back on his golden settee, took a sip of the nectar which Kerala’s toddy-tappers had gifted him, thought about the grievance for a while and decreed: Kerala shall have harebrained Marxists and a vengeful army opposed to them in the twentieth century. They shall stain the green of their abode with the red of their own blood.
I had concocted the little tale — only half in jest — but that’s what the goons of the CPM and the RSS-BJP have been doing for nearly 50 years: living out a curse on Kerala.
Like the Mexican drug lords or the Sicilian mafiosos of yore and the present-day Turks and Kurds, the CPM and the Sangh Parivar routinely decimate each other’s workers, thumbing their noses at the rule of law and reducing democracy to a mobocracy.
A new, macabre phase
The latest murder, that of RSS worker Rajesh Edavakode on 29 July, only reinforced the new, macabre phase that the Left’s return to power last year brought to Kerala’s killing fields. Even by the standards of the law of the jungle that prevails in the state, the escalation of violence is too gruesome to be permitted in a civilised world.
And it’s a double whammy for the state. If the Left’s marauding mobs are emboldened by the control of the police by their party’s government, the RSS-BJP busybodies derive moral courage by Sangh Parivar’s rule at the Centre, as they extract a jaw for a tooth when attacked. Clearly, the leaders of both sides have lost control of their rampaging mobs.
It’s a sign of the rising tension that Rajesh’s brutal killing — his palm was chopped off — brought forth unprecedented reactions. While Governor P Sathasivam summoned Vijayan to talk about the violence, the RSS called for imposition of President’s rule in the state.
Then Union home minister Rajnath Singh minced no words in telling Vijauan that the killing was unacceptable. And finally came the visit of Union minister Arun Jaitley to Kerala on Sunday to commiserate with the victim’s family. It’s another matter that Jaitley would have done more credit to himself and his party if he visited the family of at least one CPM man killed in the past.
Police inaction is evident from the fact that Rajesh’s murder didn’t come from out of the blue: it was the result of simmering tension that was easy to see. It came two days after the BJP’s state office was vandalised in the presence of silent policemen and, in a tit for tat, the home of state CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakarishnan’s son was attacked.
Dispassionate observers are left with no doubt that the leaders of both the CPM and the local outfits of the RSS and the BJP must take the blame for this continuing mayhem. It’s no longer relevant to find who is more responsible for the bloodshed or get caught in a ‘chicken-first-or-egg-first’ conundrum by asking who started it all. What’s pertinent is that both sides must rein in their respective thugs to bring about peace that befits the state’s sobriquet of God’s Own Country.
Vijayan forgets promises
After Vijayan took oath as the chief minister in May 2016, there was the hope that he would clean up the financial mess left behind by the outgoing, scam-infested Congress government and make people’s lives better. He made all the right noises. At the same time, there was a stark fear of a major spike in CPM-RSS tension, and he was prompt to promise zero-tolerance for political violence.
The hope for a government remains unfulfilled. Kerala is selling government stocks and securities worth Rs 4,000 crore to pay for pensions and welfare funds.
But the fear of more killings has come true in double-quick time. According to official data, eight BJP-RSS workers and three CPM men have been killed since Vijayan took over, many of these in his home district of Kannur.
Ever since the first recorded killing of RSS functionary Vadikkal Ramarishnan by the CPM men in 1968, there has been no end to this eye-for-eye politics. The police estimate the number of murders in the last 40 years to be about 200, though the CPM and the RSS-BJP claim that each side lost 300 workers during the period.
While power in Kerala alternates between the CPM-led Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front with monotonous regularity, statistics clearly show that Kerala sees more violence when the Left rules the state.
Resorting to brutal violence to take “control of things” is part of the archaic Communist ideology, particularly the “Stalinist vanguardism” that the CPM swears by, though it’s chary of admitting it. This was the reason why West Bengal saw bloodshed in the 34 years of the CPM rule, during which the party made a fine mess of its economy, and its ruffians wreaked unspeakable horrors on people, effectively reducing the state to a Waste Bengal, and finally losing power.
And that’s precisely the reason why the CPM is not overly squeamish about its workers annihilating rivals. There is no dearth of evidence to prove that in several cases the middle-level or top Marxist leaders either encouraged or protected killers. They fool themselves with the belief that violence against party’s enemies can hasten the Great Indian Revolution to purge India of all its bourgeoisie evils.
The Left refuses to junk its ideological rubbish despite its miserable show in elections. The CPM’s electoral tally has crashed from 5.6 percent vote share and 43 Lok Sabha seats in 2004 to 3.2 percent votes and nine seats in 2014. Kerala is the only state the party rules other than Tripura.
It needs no political genius to conclude that the stepped-up violence is also the result of a political turf war. The CPM is wary of BJP’s growing clout in Kerala. The BJP’s vote share rose from 4.75 percent in the 2006 Assembly elections to 10.6 percent last year, when it also bagged its first Assembly seat.
While the RSS-BJP would do well to restrain their cadres and stop them from taking the law into their hands whenever the hammer and sickle strike them, the ball is primarily in Vijayan’s court since, as the chief minister, it’s his job to maintain peace.
On Sunday, Vijayan said he feared that the image of a strife-torn state would jeopardise his development agenda. But he has more at stake: He may even lose the government itself, if the violence is not checked and if the calls for President’s Rule become more vocal.
Long before a Congress-mukt Bharat, India could become Left-mukt, if Vijayan fails in his job.
Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 20:43 PM