BJP padayatra for peace in Kannur led by Amit Shah: Will it escalate political tension?

What is the BJP’s gameplan with the yatra and will it succeed? Kerala political leaders weigh in.
BJP padayatra for peace in Kannur led by Amit Shah: Will it escalate political tension?
BJP padayatra for peace in Kannur led by Amit Shah: Will it escalate political tension?

While the line between politics and violence often blurs to insignificance on both sides of the pitched battle between the CPI (M) and the BJP in Kerala, there’s also a war of opinion on who bears responsibility for this.

In the BJP’s latest salvo against the state’s Left government, Amit Shah is scheduled to visit the state in September, when he will take part in a ‘padayatra’ from Payyannur in Kannur to Thiruvananthapuram. Kannur, incidentally, is where the highest number of incidents of political violence have been reported.

While both sides have spoken words of peace, the continuing one-upmanship between the CPI (M) and the BJP stands as a major obstacle on the road to end violence. By all counts, the padayatra, which will feature Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states along with Shah, will be a massive political thrust from the BJP.

What impact will the padayatra have on the tense atmosphere of Kannur and north Kerala? TNM spoke to multiple Kerala leaders on what they see as the possible fallout of the BJP’s padayatra.

MM Hassan, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President

I fear that the visit will disturb the existing peaceful atmosphere in the state. Amit Shah has had a history of creating violence wherever he attempts to build up his party. I fear something like is there in his agenda behind the yatra too. We have to be cautious about his plans.

Mullakkara Ratnakaran, former Minister and senior CPI leader

What the BJP is doing is trying to create communal division, not political division. The politics of communal division has been practiced by the BJP in various states, but Kerala continues to elude them. The human values of the people in the state have been evolved over the years through the decades-long fight of reformers, politicians and community leaders. Reformed and liberal values are deep rooted in people living in every corner of the state.

NN Krishnadas senior CPI (M) leader and former MP

The BJP is attempting to create confusion and destroy the peaceful atmosphere in the state. Not the state leadership, but the national leadership, has set an agenda to isolate Kerala. They are blindly opposed to the Left, which prompts them to do all this. But such attempts of the BJP will be met only with opposition in the state. Amith Shah’s gimmicks won’t make any impact in the public life in the state.  

V Muraleedharan BJP former state president

There is no doubt that the law and order situation in Kerala has gone to the dogs. In the last one year, 14 BJP-RSS workers were killed by CPI (M) men. The number of attacks have gone up considerably. So the intervention of national level leaders is justified. The padayatra has been planned not to provoke anyone. But it is to show that the Central Government will not hesitate to intervene if the Kerala government fails to ensure peace in the state.

Pannian Raveendran, former MP and ex-CPI state Secretary

The politics of the visit is clear. The strong base of the CPI (M) lies in the northern region, which the BJP is desperately trying to destroy. It’s true that the CPI (M) is also involved in the political violence in Kannur. But the BJP’s attempt is to make it one-sided. The BJP is determined to create the impression nationally that Kannur is a tension-hit region. BJP workers have been doing door-to-door visits to Hindu homes in Kerala to create an anti-Left image, to lay the base for religion-based politics. They know that they won’t be able to rule the state with a 12% vote share.

They are desperate to destabilise the state government. They even hope that there will be division within the Left parties. Criticising each other and criticising ourselves is a part of the Left parties’ democratic way of functioning. If the BJP expects to gain benefits out of this, it is in vain. Shah’s visit is in no way going to affect the politically aware people of the state either.

PK Sreemathy, Kannur CPI (M) MP

Ever after the Left Democratic Front came to power, scores of BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have visited the state. If we count the number of leaders who have visited the state, it would be equal to the number of Union Cabinet Ministers. The BJP could have even held a Cabinet meeting with them in Kerala.

But what was the impact? Have they gained anything? BJP leaders have been given charge of various constituencies to strengthen the party’s vote base. But they were not able to increase the vote share in the Malappuram bye-polls. Let Amit Shah and the whole group of BJP leaders come and take part in the rally. It is the BJP which is most aware that their false agenda and their hate propaganda, will not work.

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