How the Kasargode double murder could impact CPI(M)’s chances in Lok Sabha polls

The CPI(M) and the LDF have been pushed on the defensive following the incident, from the vigorous election campaign the coalition had planned, say sources.
How the Kasargode double murder could impact CPI(M)’s chances in Lok Sabha polls
How the Kasargode double murder could impact CPI(M)’s chances in Lok Sabha polls
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The Left Government’s celebration on completing 1000 days in office began on Wednesday. However, it goes against convention or style for a government to celebrate 1000 days of functioning; rather, the celebrations are conducted on anniversaries from the date of assuming office.

The Left conceived the celebration as a campaign for the Lok Sabha elections to rally support and get public opinion in their favour. While the ruling CPI (M) alliance was all set for a vigorous election campaign, the double murder in Kasargode has put a spanner in the works and pushed the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government on the defensive. Two Youth Congress workers were killed on Sunday and Peethambaran, a local leader of the CPI (M) is the prime accused in the case. CPI (M) has expelled Peethambaran from the party, and this action is the first of its kind coming from the party.

The CPI (M) needs to conduct a parallel enquiry in a crime where party workers are the accused and the punishment or acquittal will also be the party’s decision. This deviation from practice is a visible sign of change from the party’s infamous unyielding stands in cases where its workers are involved. CPI (M) state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s statement that the party had no knowledge of the crime shows that the party has been caught in a fix.

Sharath's family, Image Courtesy:

“The atmosphere prior to this incident in a way was favourable for CPI (M) and the LDF or something that could have been made favourable. They had conceived the campaign as one against corruption and communalism. Political violence has always backfired on the party. Now they are left with no option but to be restrained,” a source said.

As many as 29 political murders have been reported in the state ever since the LDF government led by Pinarayi Vijayan came to power in May 2016. There are workers of the BJP, CPI (M), Congress and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) among those who were killed.

The irony is that the LDF named its campaign rally Kerala Samrakshana Yathra (Kerala Protection March)- two parallel rallies led by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and CPI State Secretary Kanam Rajendran in the southern and northern regions respectively. With the party itself embroiled in a murder case, it will have to answer from whom the people need to be protected. The rally was held in Kasargode a day before the murder.

How it will impact the party’s chances in the elections?

“The party had an edge after the Sabarimala issue, for the progressive and stern stand it took. The murder of SFI leader Abhimanyu had made at least a few to think in favour of the party. But the double murders have brought back all that had been buried in the past. It has even brought back memories of the killing of TP Chandrasekharan, apart from that of Youth Congress worker Shuhaib and Youth League worker Ariyil Abdul Shukoor,” another source said.

“This will hamper the party’s chances in the elections; it will even have repercussions in constituencies like Vadakara, Kasargode and Kannur. The recently held opinion polls had predicted that the party will win in these three constituencies, though it would win less seats in general category. Now the party needs to work harder to retain the winning possibilities,” he pointed out.

Kasargode is the northernmost district in the state and Kannur and Vadakara in Kozhikode are in the neighbouring region. In the history of elections in Kerala since 1957, the Congress has managed to win the Kasargode constituency only thrice. Kasargode has always been a Left stronghold, and it is the third term for senior leader CPI (M) P Karunakaran as MP from Kasargode.

The CBI team investigating the Shukoor murder case recently submitted the charge sheet against CPI(M) Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan and state committee member TV Rajesh MLA in the case. In the TP murder case, the frequent parole granted to CPI (M) leader and convict in the case, PK Kunjananthan was flayed by the High Court. The murder of TP in 2015 had a profound impact on the people of Kerala. He was brutally hacked to death and there were numerous cuts on his body.

Kripesh's House, Image Courtesy:VygaNews.Com

Pinarayi Vijayan was the state Secretary of the CPI (M) when TP was killed. Pinarayi had said that the party had no role in the murder, but Kunjananthan’s arrest proved it wrong.

TP’s murder happened when the campaign for the bye-election for Neyyatinakara Assembly constituency in Thiruvananthapuram was at its peak. The party lost the election. It is yet to recover from the damage caused by the TP Chandrasekharan murder. The incident even made many party workers who were part of the Left political platform for several years, to part ways.

Was the party aware of the plot in the double murder?

According to sources, the state leadership’s claim this time that it wasn’t in the know could be true to an extent. But in the Malabar region (the northern region), nothing will happen without the knowledge of the Kannur leadership-the strongest in the party. Reports say that the team of goons who carried out the crime were brought from Kannur. Meanwhile, CPI(M) leader Peethambaran’s claim that he himself carried out the murders is yet to be verified.

The crime that claimed the lives of two youth may force the CPI (M) to go for a course correction.   

Elections 2023

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