At a time when the BJP is trying to forge alliances and make a foray into Kerala ahead of next year’s assembly polls and with controversies surrounding beef and Hindu identity plaguing the party, here is a freewheeling interview with the state BJP chief V Muraleedharan.
In 2016 elections, BJP hopes to open its account, is that really possible?
After Loksabha elections, vote share of BJP in Kerala has doubled. In Aruvikkara bye elections though the fight was between LDF and UDF the political significance was for BJP as it’s vote share increased considerably. BJP is gradually increasing its influence in Kerala through membership campaigns, visits of Amit Shah, influence of Narendra Modi and many other factors. Even LDF and UDF don’t rule out the possibility of a BJP government in the state.
Will the local polls in November 2015 be a precursor to the assembly polls of 2016?
That can be considered, but what we see now can totally change after three or four months. So it is not necessary that present local polls will be replicated in 2016.
What is your take on beef consumption in Kerala? Why did BJP leadership support ABVP when it opposed beef fests?
Those fests were an attempt to create an issue when it is actually not there. Who objected to those eating beef in Kerala? Nobody has opposed. ABVP reacted because SFI activists physically assaulted them for questioning the beef fest inside a campus where non vegetarian food is not allowed. Even there are many Hindus in Kerala who eat beef.
We never thought or discussed of banning beef in Kerala, because that is not necessary.
Everywhere the food culture is different, in north Kerala they have non-veg for Onam Sadhya but in southern parts of the state, it is unacceptable, same way in north many places, cow slaughter harms the religious feelings of people so we respect them that’s all.
We do not seek a uniform food policy at the national level.
There is much being talked about regarding a broad Hindu alliance in Kerala, is that how the BJP will approach the elections?
We don’t have any such agenda. We just wanted to bring the neglected majority of Kerala into the mainstream. For last few years Muslim League has been ruling Kerala not Congress. The neglected were majority castes.
But in a state like Kerala, would the minorities who do form a significant chunk not feel insecure?
We are not against the minorities, some people who lead Muslim League use religion for their politics. But the fact is that even minority communities’ problems are not solved by them. So one day these communities will understand the reality and they will support us. It is propaganda by Congress and CPI (M) that they create a wrong notion of BJP in the minds of minority communities.
We are not against minority communities but we support suppressed groups who are unfortunately the majority Hindus in Kerala.
The Kerala BJP is perceived to be seen playing the agenda of religious polarization?
No it is not. We should provide development to neglected groups; in Kerala unfortunately it is the majority castes that have been neglected. Our agenda is to provide development for all equally. We specially concentrate on the group who were suppressed and denied development.
Then why doesn’t the BJP work among lower castes or labourers who were neglected for decades?
In Kerala, BJP is the only party that works for them. BJP works for their development. That is why they accept us. Most of the protests for the Scheduled caste and tribes are initiated by CPI(M) because they were scared that BJP will organize it. In Munnar issue we did not have a union among those plantation workers so we did not interfere.
Many incidents that have happened elsewhere, like MM Kalburgi’s murder or Dadri lynching, how does Kerala BJP perceive it?
They all are propagandas, for example Kalburgi issue there were other elements also in it, and he had some property issues. Why the police are not arresting a single person in the incident? Because if they arrest, the real culprit will get revealed and their propaganda to attack the right wing, won’t work out.
And why these writers did not protest against Sikh massacre? All these issues are created to harm the image of right wing politics.
Why is the BJP doing aggressive propaganda attacking minority communities, even raking up old issues. Recently you made message go viral that author Kamala Surayya or Madhavikutty was a victim of love jihad.
Kairali TV interviewed a woman who lived 20 years ago in Amritanandamayi Asram. And moreover it is not information released officially by BJP, some people might have cited it as part of a discussion. It was not a propaganda message from party.
When people see some injustices they will react, for that reaction they may cite these incidents it is natural.
For example this recent Kerala Varma college issue, everyone was criticizing for having a small temple (Nagathara) in the college, but if Muslim institutions can have prayer halls, Christian institutions can have the pictures of Jesus and chapels why can’t a college under Devaswom Board light a lamp in Nagathara?
You have spoken candidly, but in many instances it is seen that cadres are intolerant to criticism
For years in this society they have been suppressed, and this is their reaction. These reactions are not planned. This will be planned only when the leadership is also intolerant, but we are not.
SNDP alliance : It is said that state leadership is not interested for an alliance with SNDP, is it so?
The first discussion on this matter was with Amit Shah, It was I who went with Vellapally Natesan and Tushar Vellapally to meet Shah. If I was not interested why should I initiate these discussions?
We all discussed it together. It was State leadership who helped them (Vellappally Natesan and family) get the appointment of the Prime Minister.
After that even before their meeting media predicted that Natesan is the chief ministerial candidate of BJP in Kerala but we did not say anything like that. Neither Natesan nor the BJP leadership mentioned that.
Last day Natesan said that they don’t have any relationship with BJP, so it shows that SNDP is not interested in the alliance right? But you say it is we who are not interested.
It is an agenda set by some media, other than that there are no misunderstandings. SNDP have not yet decided about the alliance, they will decide only after one or two months.
And SNDP now at present don’t have a mechanism to enter in to the electoral politics independently.
Why do you unanimously support Natesan in death of Swami Saswathikananda issue?
We don’t support anyone. We just ask some questions like if LDF believes in their allegations why did not they find out the murderer of Swami when they ruled? After the incident UDF ruled eight years and LDF ruled five years why did not they investigate issue?
So they wanted to use the issue politically now.
Above all, Biju Ramesh brought these allegations out after a meeting with Gokulam Gopalan and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Why BJP in Kerala has a soft spot for Congress and aggressively attacking CPI(M)?
We oppose both the parties. Left parties at least have an ideology to oppose but Congress is a party which don’t even have an ideology. Now I am the one who gave case against KM Mani.
We oppose both the parties equally Congress is a party without morals.
Why Oommen Chandy has kept silent in BJP related issues, a possibility of secret understanding? Apparently a Congress agenda to defeat CPI (M)
Nothing, we won’t act according to Congress agenda and show no consideration for them. No point in Chief Minister’s silence, in coming elections both LDF and UDF will face setback.