Acts of political violence involving cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) outside Kannur district of Kerala were considered exceptions rather than a rule as in the northern district, where internecine killings have become the order of the day.
But the situation is fast changing with several other places emerging as hotspots of political violence in the last two years. The state capital of Thiruvananthapuram is closely following Kannur if the recent incidents of violence involving the cadres of both the outfits are any indication.
While the political murders in Kannur are explained away as part of a long tradition of revenge killings, which have been glorified in local lore, the rationale behind the political rivalry in Thiruvananthapuram where the BJP won its first seat in the state legislature in its six-decades-old history in the 2016 elections, is still to be understood.
A section of political observers feel that the spectre of violence haunting the state capital in the last couple of years may have strong connections with power politics. Noted political analyst NN Pearson told the Firstpost that the recent clashes could be the result of attempts by the Sangh Parivar to extend their foot print in the district and that of the CPM to counter it.
BJP Thiruvananthapuram district president S Suresh said that the casualties in their side showed that the CPM was the main culprit behind the violent incidents in the district. He told the Firstpost that they had lost three men and scores injured in the political clashes since the Assembly polls.
The latest to fall prey to the violence is E Rajesh (34), a key RSS functionary in the Sreekaryam area of the capital city. Suresh alleged that he was hacked to death by a gang led by Manikuttan, a CPM worker whose name figured in the goonda list of Kerala police.
He said that five men detained by the police in connection with the brutal murders were members of either CPI (M) or its youth or trade union wings. Suresh said that the attack on Rajesh was hatched as part of an operation being carried out by CPI (M) district secretary Anavoor Nagappan and former legislator V Sivankutty to prevent the march of the BJP in the district.
Nagappan has denied the charge. The CPM district secretary claimed that neither the party nor its members had anything with the murder. He said that the murder was the result of disputes over some local issues. The police, who have launched a high-level investigation into the case, are yet to confirm the motive behind the murder.
The BJP district president termed Rajesh as a victim of CPM’s politics of violence. He said that the CPM was using muscle power as it was not able to counter the BJP politically. The party is afraid of the BJP growth in the district, he added.
“The CPM has been targeting us since the local body polls, in which we won 33 seats in the 100-member city corporation and became the main opposition. There have been over 160 clashes since then. Many of our councillors, party offices and homes of party men were attacked. Our party headquarters were attacked twice,” Suresh said.
In fact, the murder of Rajesh came two days after the BJP state committee office came under the second attack. The attack on Friday followed a series of clashes involving the cadres of the two parties in different parts of Thiruvananthapuram for two days.
Members of both parties vandalised party offices and homes, and damaged vehicles belonging to opponents. The house of Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of the CPM state secretary, was among those that came under the attack unleashed by the RSS.
The chain of violence started after students belonging to BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), damaged a flag hoisted at MG College in the city by the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of CPM, as part of their attempt to end the hegemony of the Sangh Parivar at the college.
The SFI tried to breach the ABVP control over MG College after the latter made a similar move at the University College, which is dominated by the CPM students' union. Both ABVP and the SFI do not allow other students unions to enter the respective colleges controlled by them.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the violence was triggered by the BJP after various corruption scams, including medical college admission scams, involving party leaders came to light. He alleged that BJP had launched the attacks to divert the attention of the media and the people from the scams, which have tarnished Narendra Modi government’s anti-corruption image.
Political observers like Pearson do not rule out the possibility since they feel that all political parties in the state were in mad race for power. Pearson said that these parties were ready to do anything for the sake of power.
“There is no politics in the politics practiced by the current crop of political parties. They believe in combating their rivals physically rather than ideologically. This is why political violence is spreading in the state. Every party have their gang of goondas, who are ready to do anything for the sake of money,” he added.
Pearson said that the attempt by the parties to end the political killings in Kannur have not been succeeding because the goondas nurtured by the parties had gone out of their control. This is happening in other places, including Thiruvananthapuram, too.
“If this goes unchecked politics in Kerala will fall in the hands of goondas. This is a very sad thing for the politically enlightened people of Kerala. I think they will rise against this and show the political parties their places,” said Pearson.
BRP Bhaskar, a senior journalist based at Thiruvananthapuram, believes that political violence was spreading in Kerala because the hit men in both camps might be feeling emboldened by the fact that their leaders are now ruling parties, one at the Centre and the other in the state.
According to a report in India Today, over 400 cases of political violence were reported from Kannur, which is the epi-centre of political violence in Kerala, since the assumption of power by the CPM-led Left Democratic Front in May 2016.
The report said that the incidents of political violence had seen an increase of about 30 percent in over the last three years. More than 600 CPM workers, nearly 300 RSS-BJP activists and over 50 Congress members are reported to have been arrested in the cases of violence.
Updated Date: Jul 31, 2017 06:29 AM