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BJP, CPM locked in war of words over political violence in Kerala

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat in power struggle to gain control of the CPM

Kerala has become another flash point of clashes between Bharatiya Janata Party and left parties ruling the southern state known as God’s own country. The BJP has accused the left parties in Kerala of playing the violence card to terrorise people to keep them under the left influence.

As a part of larger strategy, the BJP pushed in Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Kerala to lambast the CPM government in Kerala for pursuing a policy of political killings against its rivals. For a parliamentary democracy to survive and strengthen, no political party can support violence on political grounds. Unfortunately, political violence in Kerala and other parts of the country has increased in recent times.

The CPM which lost West Bengal to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress is itself facing lots of organisational troubles due to the power struggle between Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat. The party is divided into two groups one led by Sitaram Yechury seeking tie up with secular parties led by the Congress while Prakash Karat and Kerala unit oppose the move. The debate is on within the party over  the next political move to remain relevant in the electoral battle during the run up to the 2019 general elections for the Lok Sabha.

CPM facing heat from BJP
The CPM is facing heat from the BJP which has been engaged in heated debate over political violence blaming the left parties for giving legitimacy to violence in day-today politics in left ruled states. The BJP   has launched a spirited campaign against the CPM government for creating trouble and supporting the violence by CPM cadre against the RSS activists in the Kerala.  BJP president Amit Shah who launched his rally from Payyanur, a Left stronghold and the chief minister's home district alleged that Kerala chief minister Vijayan had "blood on his hands." The BJP has been blaming CPM for violence in the state resulting in deaths of 120 RSS workers in the state since 2001.   The BJP has declared a list of RSS workers who had been killed during CPM regime in the state. Union minister Prakash Javadekar has announced a plan of sending all important BJP functionaries to Kerala to focus on left-wing violence and its fight against communist ideology.

The CPM hit back with vengeance saying, "Amit Shah is trying to create riots in Kerala by raising non-issues like violence against RSS cadres. The Padayatra is aimed towards  deliberately inciting violence against CPM leaders. The CPM tweeted,” Kerala government will resist any attempt to spread terrorism in the state in the name of any religion."

Amit Shah has started the debate over rate of political violence in Kerala by undertaking the Janaraksha Yatra. He asserted that there is no scope for political violence in a democracy, criticising the CPM state government for failure to provide safety and security to the life and property of people. His observation proved hard hitting against the chief minister when pointed out that the highest incidence of political violence is in the Kerala chief minister’s home town which reported killings of 14 RSS workers.

Perhaps, Adityanath is first UP chief minister who has become a BJP mascot in trouble torn Kerala. His yatra also received good response where he lashed out against the Kerala government asking it act strictly against the ‘love jihad’ describing it as a “serious development” in Kerala and Karnataka.   Amit Shah’s   Janaraksha Yatra’s theme was “Against Jihadi and Red Terror”.  

Though the CPM is still discussing whether to join hands with the Congress for its fight against the saffron forces in the country, former Congress chief minister Oommen Chandy supported the CPM campaign against the BJP yatras saying that Amit Shah and the RSS are attacking Kerala government based on some isolated incidents. He asserted that Kerala is against all divisive forces and there will be a united front of all parties to defend the pride of the Kerala state.

 The fight in Kerala is having reverberations in Delhi with both the parties discussing it in national capital making it more important issue. No doubt political violence by political parties is an issue which is not simple due to its ramification. It cannot be equated on par with violence by terrorists’ outfits but none the less, it has to be fought with all the strength all these parties have since it hits at the very base of the parliamentary democratic system of governance. If attacking each other becomes a routine and part of political culture, then it will not end with an end of a regime as it will continue further.

There is no end to the war of words between the CPM and RSS-BJP leaders accusing each other of inciting violent political clashes and spreading disharmony. Kerala is being singled out to make their point.

Both the parties are accusing each other of starting culture of violence in Kerala by attacking party workers. The BJP has been organising rallies and meetings of its senior central leaders during last couple of months to boost the morale of the party workers who are facing attacks from CPM cadre.  
In September, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat alleged that the governments of West Bengal and Kerala are sheltering jihadi elements which are creating violence in these states. He wanted the state governments to take action against these anti-national elements to protect common citizens and their properties.

CM Vijayan attacks RSS chief Bhagwat
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan attacked RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, saying that Keralites did not need any advice on nationalism from those who did not participate in the freedom struggle. He lamented that the RSS considers religious minorities as internal threat to the stability of the country.
Javadekar given a new dimension to the debate between the CPM and the BJP saying that the CPM now does not stand for Marxist but it has become Maoist and using violence as a political tool. Kerala CM has condemned Javadekar’s statement saying it was irresponsible to call it Maoist when the CPM government had come to power through proper democratic procedure. There is no end to statistics being produced by the CPM as well as the BJP to paint other as more aggressive party indulging in violence. According to CPM factsheet, since 2000 to 2017, Kerala police figures show that 85 CPM workers and 65 RSS workers were killed. The very first day of the electoral victory of LDF in Kerala, murder of CPI(M) worker Ravindranath took place while he was participating in the victory procession of CM Vijayan in his home constituency.

There seems to be no end to the ongoing war of words between the CPM and the BJP. Both accuse each other of provoking violence and killing each other’s active workers. The atmosphere is quite surcharged with the expectations of a close fight in coming elections. Much will actually depend on what stand the CPM takes ultimately over having a pre-poll alliance with secular parties. Basically, it revolves round the Congress Party and the left party has to decide whether to join the secular front being envisaged by the Congress or chart out its own course. That is real fight between two CPM stalwarts Sitaram Yechury and PrakashKarat.

If they decide to join hands with the Congress to bring in more unity among anti-BJP front, then it will be difficult for the BJP in Kerala. Otherwise, division of secular votes will pave way for the BJP to create strong base in Kerala.

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