'This is Kerala not Gujarat', DYFI said in its banner.

DYFI hoists tricolour in Palakkad municipality
news Politics Friday, December 18, 2020 - 15:25

‘Down with communalism. Long live secularism!,’ were the chants that rent the air outside the Palakkad Municipality office on Friday, as the DYFI (CPI(M) youth wing) marched to the office and unfurled the Indian tricolour from the building.

This was DYFI’s retaliation to the BJP for celebrating its win in the municipality with a ‘Jai Shri Ram’ banner on Wednesday. The BJP won 28 out of 52 seats in the local body elections and gained control of the Palakkad municipality. To celebrate their victory, BJP cadres hung banners of Amit Shah and Modi and one more which read ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Malayalam from the top of the building on Wednesday. The celebrations quickly turned controversial and was widely condemned on social media for using a religious slogan in a government building, after a video of it went viral.

The incident turned even more controversial after BJP State Secretary Sandeep G Varier posted a video of the celebratory rallies in Palakkad with a caption ‘Palakkad is Kerala’s Gujarat’. 

On Friday morning, the Palakkad police booked a few BJP cadres who were purportedly responsible for the celebrations. Soon after, DYFI cadres from Palakkad undertook a rally to the Palakkad municipality, raising slogans against communalism. Following this, a tricolour flag was unfurled from the same spot in the building from where the Jai Shri Ram banner was hung. 

In a Facebook live video posted on the DYFI Palakkad page, cadres could be seen marching with a banner that read, “This is not an RSS office, it is a municipality office. This is not Gujarat but Kerala...DYFI march to Palakkad Municipality.” 

The BJP and Yuva Morcha have meanwhile lodged a complaint against the DYFI alleging that the national flag was unfurled in a wrong manner and this was disrespectful to the flag.

“In the north, the BJP paints saffron in different places, hangs Jai Shri Ram banners, Ayodhya posters, put pictures of Sivaji and Golwalker everywhere and other communal symbols wherever they have control. But this is Kerala, and such kind of celebrations will not be tolerated by the secular people of Kerala, by the secular people of Palakkad,” DYFI District Secretary TM Sasi told TNM. 

Sasi also added that ‘just because the BJP won the Palakkad municipality in the local body elections, they cannot hang non-secular symbols in the area'. "This is an administrative centre in a democracy and hence we can only hang symbols of democracy. Communalising the place, even if done by any religious majority or minority will be strongly opposed,” Sasi added. 

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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