Kerala political killings: Muddled CPM walking into well-laid RSS trap to push for President’s Rule

Political killings aren’t new in Kerala’s political landscape. The politics of bloodshed dates back to the 1970s and 1980s and the early days of the creation of Left and Right fronts. Since then, political goons masquerading as party workers have executed opponents — some for local reasons and others deployed to send larger political messages. There have been countless murders, each of which has a contradicting storyline depending on whom you ask.

The BJP-RSS joined the world of political killings soon when it began to seek inroads to the state’s bipolar political scene.

But, of late things are changing beyond typical local clashes. The RSS and BJP have been attempting to build a narrative slowly but steadily to bring the political violence in Kerala into the national conscious, and more importantly, to portray itself as the primary victim. In fact, the RSS, which is stronger than the BJP in Kerala, has openly asked for President’s Rule in the state. The pattern of events in the recent past, especially after the murder of RSS worker, Rajesh, allegedly by CPM workers, suggests this strategy.

In this context, there have been three major developments following Rajesh’s killing: Kerala governor P Sathasivam summoning the chief minister to convey his concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state on 30 July, the visit of top BJP leader and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, and reports of likely visits of BJP president and master strategist Amit Shah and chief ministers of BJP-ruled state to Kerala in the backdrop of Rajesh’s murder. All this lead to a well-thought out, carefully calibrated BJP-RSS strategy of branding Kerala as a land of political violence in order to make a case for President’s Rule in the state. The LDF leadership is largely caught off-guard in this plot.

File image of Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

File image of Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

Logically, this could be part of BJP-RSS’ strategy to get a firm grip of the political scene in the state after realising that chances of organic growth in the near future are shrinking or are too time-consuming.

One major clue that signals such a narrative lies in Jaitley’s comments on the political killings in the state.

Jaitley expressed concern on the "continuing saga of violence in Kerala" and blamed Kerala’s CPM government for the political violence in the state, accusing it of "using" its cadres to "eliminate" rival party workers. Further, Jaitley also made a comparison of Rajesh killing to terrorists saying, "The kind of wounds inflicted on Rajesh would even embarrass terrorists." More critically, Jaitley criticised the state police for its inability to control the perpetrators of violence against BJP and RSS workers, saying "the state needs peace and it deserves peace". Finally, Jaitley made a note of the increase in murders of RSS-BJP workers after Pinarayi Vijayan came to power.

At the same time, it is important to note here is that Jaitley was largely silent about the loss of lives on the CPM side allegedly caused by RSS-BJP workers. That is despite families of some 21 CPM workers allegedly killed by RSS-BJP cadres staging a dharna demanding that Jaitley visit their houses as well. The fact is that political violence has resulted in deaths on both sides, but Jaitely’s remarks appeared to play up RSS-BJP as primary victims. Remember, the political narrative against CPM and in favour of BJP-RSS began taking shape way back during the Kannur killings after the LDF government took over, when the BJP national leadership voiced similar arguments.

In fact, both RSS and BJP have been trying to make inroads in the state for a while, which has met with stiff resistance from the CPM. Logically, martyrs like Rajesh help it to gain sympathy among the neutral voters, whereas the CPM workers wrongly assume that such killings would scare away people. Also, there are reasons to believe that state political leaderships are losing control of the actions of the workers on the ground. There have been allegations of both left and RSS resorting to eliminate their own workers for political reasons. Former Communist Party leader TP Chandrashekharan was hacked to death in May 2012 in Kerala allegedly by Left cadres. Early this year, an RSS worker from Kerala's Kannur district had alleged that the RSS tried to kill him to put the blame on the ruling CPM. To be sure, these two incidents are in totally different contexts.

CPM falling into a trap

The Kerala CPM, headed by Vijayan, is falling into a well-laid trap by countering this narrative with bigger battle calls against BJP/RSS and attempting to gag the media, instead of dealing with the volatile situation in the state in a mature way and assuring the centre about necessary steps to ensure law and order situation. "Times have changed. Now the BJP should realise that the situation in Kerala is no longer the same as during the dismissed EMS Government. What BJP should first be doing is to let the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath settle law and order there,” said Kerala CPM secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, commenting on Jaitley’s visit. Vijayan too expressed his concern over the Centre’s propaganda against the state.

But, in the battle of strategies, the BJP is winning in a big way. It has successfully brought the RSS worker-killing to the national stage and is picturing the state as a land of political violence where the state government and police remain helpless spectators. The usual drill that precedes Centre’s rule in any state is progressing quietly — the governor summoning the chief minister, Union ministers visiting the place of violence, expressing a loss of confidence and terming the events as total political anarchy.

The state’s CPM leadership is responding to this strategy the exact same way the BJP wants it to act — by resorting to counter accusations, blame games and denying its inability to take control of the law and order situation. It is making a big mistake. Instead, the Vijayan government would do better to offer a mature response to the Centre. By going into confrontation mode with the Centre, the Vijayan government is making the BJP-RSS leadership’s job easier. The CPM state leadership lacks strategy and the ability to foresee well-laid political traps by RSS-BJP.

Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 13:16 PM

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