No end in sight for political violence in Kerala as CPM launches nationwide campaign to counter BJP's Janaraksha Yatra

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday launched a nation-wide campaign against the propaganda unleashed by Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) combine that Kerala is a land of 'red-jihadi' terror.

The saffron party had put the CPM in the dock by launching a 'Janaraksha Yatra' from Payyannur in Kannur district, the epicentre of political violence in the state, to state capital Thiruvananthapuram from 3 October and its national version in front of the CPM headquarters in New Delhi and other state capitals from the next day.

A poster at CPM rally in Kannur blames BJP-RSS for violence in Kerala. SK Mohan/Firstpost

A poster at CPM rally in Kannur blames BJP-RSS for violence in Kerala. SK Mohan/Firstpost

In a virtual tit-for-tat response to the BJP campaign, the CPM launched protests in front of the BJP office in Delhi and all other state capitals on Monday. In Kerala, the party staged 'anti-fascist' meets in front of the state secretariat in the state capital and other district headquarters.

The CPM kicked the ball to the BJP court in Kannur, where the battle for political supremacy between CPM and the Sangh Parivar has claimed more than 250 lives in the last three decades, by parading family members of party workers killed and those injured in the violence.

Both parties sought to play the victim card by putting forth the victims on their side. While BJP listed 200 names, the CPM came up with a list of 205 people. However, the CPM could mobilise family members of only 65 victims and 10 injured at the Kannur meet, according to reports.

Both the CPM and the RSS blamed each other for the killing spree. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the killing spree had started in 1971 when the party resisted the RSS-instigated violence against Muslims. When the CPM defeated its design, the RSS started targeting the party workers.

"The current series of political murders in Kannur was fuelled by RSS by hurling bombs on the victory rally of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the day of the counting of votes in the Assembly poll. RSS men attacked the rally as they were frustrated by the party’s dismal show in the election," CPM said.

BJP state chief Kummanam Rajashekharan, however, said that seeds of hostility towards RSS were sowed by the undivided Communist Party way back in 1948 when the party attacked a conclave addressed by the then RSS sarsanghchalak MS Golwalkar at Thiruvananthapuram.

"The killing spree by CPM started in the 1970s when many party workers joined RSS frustrated with the party’s dubious stand on Emergency. The CPM has killed several workers and leaders of the Sangh since then. The killing spree is continuing now,” added Rajashekharan.

Political analysts feel that neither CPM nor BJP wants the violence to end. Sunnykutty Abraham, a senior journalist based at Thiruvananthapuram, said that the parties were trying to create fear in the minds of the people and make political capital out of it.

He told Firstpost that the Janarkasha Yatra of BJP and the counter-protests by CPM were intended to serve the political interest of the respective parties. While BJP is trying to woo the Hindus and Christians by raising slogans against 'red-Jihadi' terror and love jihad, the CPM is making an attempt to use it to project itself as a saviour of the Muslim community, says Abraham.

"The BJP propaganda against jihadi terror and love jihad has raised fears in the minds of the Muslims. The CPM has considered it as a golden opportunity, particularly on the eve of the Vengara by-election, in which it was locked in a tough fight. The party, therefore, is trying to cash in on it," he said.

The strident anti-Sangh Parivar position taken by CPM and its allies had helped LDF win a few seats in the Muslim and Christian belts in the Assembly election. The CPM, which was pessimistic about the outcome at Vengara in the initial phase of the campaign, has started exuding confidence after BJP launched the Janaraksha Yatra.

Umesh Babu, a political analyst at Kannur, termed the roadshows of both the political outfits as insanity. He told Firstpost that the two were playing with the lives of innocent people for their political games.

"If the two political outfits are blaming past mistakes for the violence, they should put them behind them and bring an end to the violence for once and all. Instead, they want the murder spree to continue. Keralites are not fools not to understand the motive behind these political games," he said.

Umesh, a former member of the CPM-controlled writers' forum, said that the major reason for the violence was the intolerance of the two outfits towards their political rivals. He was ousted from CPM for writing a poem that the party considered against its political stand.

The writer said that both CPM and the Sangh Parivar are equally fascist. They are displaying their fascist face in the current campaign. They are adopting fascist methods to prevent the other from poaching their space.

"Protests are part of the democratic process. No one is against parties taking out yatras or engaging in other activities to canvas support of the people. But what is going on now is a venomous campaign instigating fear in the minds of the people,” Umesh said.

He said that both CPM and RSS were intoxicating the workers politically. They are trying to turn party workers into killing machines and political animals. There is no humanness in these parties, he added.

Umesh said that the BJP yatra and the CPM counter-protest in Kannur may end the brief lull in violence that Kannur is experiencing now. He said that the entire district was tense in the wake of the current protests and clashes could erupt anytime.

Minor incidents of violence had occurred in some parts of Kannur and Kasargod even a day before the launch of the Janaraksha Yatra by BJP chief Amit Shah. It took a serious turn on Sunday when crude bombs were hurled on a procession taken out by CPM activists at Kaivellikal in Kannur district.

As many as 14 persons, including four police personnel, sustained injuries in the attack. Blaming RSS for the attack, CPM organised a dawn-to-dusk hartal at Panoor as a mark of protest.

The tense situation in Kannur is likely to continue as CPM is planning a yatra from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram later in the month and the Congress-led United Democratic Front from 1 November. The political atmosphere will remain hot until the elections.

Updated Date: Oct 10, 2017 12:07 PM

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