Kerala has been witnessing a tough political battle between the BJP and ruling CPI(M) these days. This is perhaps for the first time when the BJP has attempted to make inroads into the stronghold of CPI(M) . BJP president Amit Shah recently launched Jan Raksha Yatra in Kerala to protest against alleged left backed violence against RSS cadres. He set out yatra from Kannur district's Payyanur. The ruling CPI(M) refuted the allegations. The party on the contrary attempted to convey the message that the attacks were "not one sided".
The CPM has stepped up its attack against the saffron camp. An editorial in party mouthpiece 'People's Democracy' said BJP chief Amit Shah has unleashed "lumpen politics" in Kerala which would not deter CPM cadres. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has slammed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his remarks on the law and order situation and medical facilities in the State.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to CPI(M) MP, M B Rajesh to know the CPM strategy to counter the BJP's attempts to target his party. Will or won't the BJP succeed in its mission? Rajesh described the yatra as a `tactic' of the BJP to divert public attention from its colossal failure on various fronts including economic. He maintained that people of all castes, religion and financial background rally behind the Left government in defending social ethos and secular values. He said that the BJP will never become a decisive force in Kerala.
IC: The BJP has levelled allegations that your party was responsible for political murders in the state.
M B Rajesh: It is nothing but false propaganda of the BJP to hold CPM responsible for the political murders. It has already been exposed. BJP minister Arun Jaitley who visited Kerala with few media persons to know the reality, admitted that it was not a unilateral thing. The CPM workers had also been killed. Some of the journalists, accompanying Jaitley, tweeted saying that RSS-BJP workers were also responsible for political murders in the state. Some of the TV channels quoted state crime record bureau data which confirmed that more CPM workers were killed than RSS-BJP workers. Without getting involved in the blame game, I would like to state that we are keen to end political killings. Our party has taken several initiatives in this regard. The state government has taken important steps to stop political killings. Kerala Chief Minister has met RSS-BJP leaders and discussed this matter. CM had convened an all-party meeting as well. As a result of these efforts, no political violence took place in Kerala in last three months or so. No political murder was reported. The situation is normal in Kerala.
IC: What do you have to say on BJP's two week long yatra?
This is a political yatra, BJP president Amit Shah is trying to create trouble in the state. It is an attempt to disrupt peaceful atmosphere in Kerala. This yatra was planned and executed by Shah and central leadership of the BJP. The BJP has always got benefits from violence, both communal and political. Upset by the normal situation in Kerala, the BJP president Amit Shah planned yatra to provoke the CPM workers. Both Shah and state BJP leaders have made provocative statements during the yatra but nothing happened. The yatra was peaceful.
IC: The theme of the BJP yatra is "Jehad - Red Terror". They have linked Marxist left with Islamic terror. Your comments.
The fact is that the BJP and RSS have been trying to break social harmony by targeting the left. This is the only way for the BJP to enhance their base here. This has been the BJP strategy for the entire country but they won’t succeed in Kerala .
IC: UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath seems to be a masterstroke of Amit Shah. Adityanath's participation in the BJP's Kerala is an indication that the party is also likely to use the Uttar Pradesh template in the southern state.
That will be a far-fetched dream of the BJP. They have not understood Kerala, its history, culture and people. The communal and caste factors will not help them at all. They won't be able to repeat the UP story in Kerala. On the contrary, the presence of Yogi Adityanath has helped us compare health story of Uttar Pradesh with Kerala which is far better than UP. Kerala has nothing to learn from UP about hospitals or medical facilities.
IC: The editorial in CPM mouthpiece People's Democracy, said Shah calling for daily protests by BJP workers at the CPM headquarters in New Delhi till October 16 reflected the era of "lumpen politics".
The BJP is sending its leaders to Kerala from Gujarat, UP and other places to terrorise people of Kerala, disrupt communal harmony and defame Kerala's civilisation. That's why their yatra has failed as people realised that they were misleading the country by projecting Kerala as a ‘terror' state. Their false propaganda has begun affecting Malayalis living in Delhi.
IC: The editorial was critical of BJP chief Amit Shah. The mouthpiece said, "Shah is the last person who should be accusing an elected CM of being responsible for murders." The editorial drew attention to the criminal charges levelled against Shah when he was Gujarat home minister. Your views.
Amit Shah's reputation is not good. Patidar youth recently disrupted his public meeting in Gujarat and equated him with General Dyer. Precisely for this reason, he came to Kerala to hold yatra.
IC: The left may have contributed to the making of a welfare state but what about the growth of the industry. The youth have gone to Gulf for jobs so the state economy is dependent on remittances from the Gulf. The crisis in West Asian countries has made it difficult for them to survive. How about governance?
We are trying to address the developmental issues to make state economy ‘vibrant'. The left government has been addressing this issue from time to time. The literacy campaign was the contribution of left government. The left government is focussing on environment, community education, public health and houses for all. The government is also trying to generate employment for the people. The achievements of left run Kerala government are far greater than the BJP ruled states and BJP led government at centre.
(Published on 09th October 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 41)