BJP’s victory celebrations in Palakkad with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ banner stokes controversy

BJP spokesperson Sandeep G Varier also called Palakkad ‘Kerala’s Gujarat’ as he celebrated the party's win in Palakkad.
Palakkad Municipality win by BJP
Palakkad Municipality win by BJP

Shrieks and chants of ‘Vande Mataram’ rent the air outside the Palakkad municipality building in Kerala. BJP cadres are seen celebrating outside the office with a giant banner of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah unfurled from the top of the building. On the other side, a BJP supporter from the terrace unfolds another banner which reads, ‘Jai Shri Ram’. And the celebratory spirit only grows louder as the banner is unfolded. 

This video, which went viral on Facebook and Twitter, was shot right after BJP gained control of the Palakkad Municipality in the 2020 local body polls in Kerala. The party won a clear majority, clinching 28 seats out of the total 52 seats which went to polls in the municipality. While the  BJP is popular in the area, in 2015, it rose to becoming the single party with the highest number of seats, but fell short of a majority as it only won only 24 seats.

The party’s celebrations in Kerala quickly turned controversial and were criticised for its communal flavour and use of the phrase ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Added to this BJP State Spokesperson Sandeep G Varier’s Facebook post further stoked a row. 

Sandeep had posted a video where he is seen recording a selfie visual from a victory rally in Palakkad on Wednesday. The video showed Sandeep followed by a cavalcade of bikes, many of whom were carrying the BJP flag. 

It was Sandeep’s caption which reads, ‘Palakkad city is Kerala’s Gujarat’, that triggered a controversy. 

Several people protested against BJP communalising its win in Palakkad by using a ‘Jai Shri Ram’ banner. 

A Facebook user wrote, “Today is a great day but I cannot pretend that I have not seen these scary scenes from Palakkad. Wherever they are, their aim is only Ram and communalising. Neutral and innocent people, please open your eyes. This needs to be nipped in the bud.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party or the BJP has not managed to make any great inroads in the local body polls and only has managed to win 10 out of 941 grama panchayats in Kerala. In addition to winning the Palakkad Municipality, it has also gained control of the Pandalam Municipality in Pathanamthitta.

In Palakkad, while the Congress had won 13 seats last time, this year it fell short of the previous elections’ numbers by 1 seat - winning only 12. The LDF which had won 9 seats in 2015, shrunk to six seats this year. 

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