'Vayal Kilikal', a group of farmers who started their agitation two years ago against land acquisition for a National Highway bypass in Keezhattur of Kannur district has declared that a member from their group will contest in Kerala local polls. P Latha, was declared as the candidate who will contest from ward 30 of Taliparamba municipality. The declaration was done during a meeting held in a paddy field in Keezhattoor, the same place from where their protest started two years ago.
The protests in Vayal Kilikal against acquiring paddy fields for the construction of a National Highway had gained much popularity as Keezhattoor is known to be a CPI(M) bastion and many of the protestors were party followers. Though during their protest, other political parties had extended support, Vayal Kilikal has decided to contest independently.
During the protests in 2018, Latha's house was attacked and she was also arrested by the police. Suresh Keezhattoor, one of the leaders of the Vayal Kilikal protest is Latha's husband. "We did not think of it as a political movement. Environment protection is the agenda we put forward. Even when we protested earlier we were not political," Latha said.
"Central government has taken a policy that supports corporate rule. Though the LDF government is ideologically placed opposite, even their rule could not reject corporate interests. It is in this scenario that people's movements emerge, Vayal Kilikal was one among them," Suresh Keezhattoor told TNM.
"Policy against fascism should go hand in hand with anti corporate policies. Only then the idea of secularism will work out. We are not against the left government, we are against the left government that deviated from its ideology," he added.
In the last local polls, the LDF candidate had won from the ward garnering more than 500 votes, while the Congress managed to get just 93 and BJP 13 votes. There were many criticisms after BJP joined the protest to support Vayal Kilikal. But they had clarified that they would seek help from any political party to protect their land. However, later they had said that the BJP deceived them.
The National Highway project aimed to construct a four-lane highway as part of NH 66 was to avoid heavy traffic in Taliparamba. As per the plan, 29.11 hectares of land had to be acquired, of which 21 hectares were wetlands.