Forget the past and look forward to a different Kerala.

Rhetoric aside CPIM and RSS must engage to end political violence
Voices Political Violence Friday, June 17, 2016 - 17:28

(By K.A. Antony)

The public outburst of P.K. Sasi, CPI(M) legislator from Shoranur, against police officials cannot be seen lightly at a time when the Sangh Parivar and some Congress leaders are once again putting the entire blame on the CPI(M) for the post-poll political violence in Kerala. His own party leader Pinarayi Vijayan as the present Chief Minister is bent on brokering peace with the Sangh Parivar groups so as to ensure the state’s growth on all fronts. Interestingly, Sasi scolded the police officers in public a day after his own party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had set certain norms for the CPI(M) ministers in the Pinarayi dispensation. In this context, it has to be seen whether Kodiyeri would set a code of conduct for his party legislators as well. 

The first reaction to reach this writer after the Sasi act went viral soon after some of the Malayalam news channels aired it, was from a former CPI(M) leader, who is no more active in the day- to-day affairs of the party. His name requires to be kept secret as per his wish. “Please see what’s happening. He was just playing to the gallery. Don’t you how much damage it would bring to the party and the new government led by it,” he said.

Yes, the 74-year old man who is fighting cancer is right. The way Sasi chided the police officials in public will only help in creating a bad impression about the CPI(M) and its legislators. Sasi’s rude behaviour towards the police officials had its immediate effect as was manifested by the passive attitude of the policemen on duty while media persons were assaulted by a criminal gang led by an RSS functionary on the premises of a Magistrate court. Visuals (footage) aired by news channels showed the policemen walking away from the scene of crime without making any attempt to intervene and stop the crime.

However, the RSS attack on media persons appears to have come as a blessing in disguise for the CPI(M), struggling hard to establish before the whole nation and the world that the RSS in Kerala is no better than their brethren in the rest of the country. The incident might also help the Reds to get some reprieve from the way they are being painted by the BJP-RSS and a section in the Congress as a party of murderers at a time when the BJP –RSS is planning to make the so-called political intolerance of the CPI(M) which always leads to clashes and killings in Kerala, a national issue.

But are things that simple, especially with the BJP-RSS and the Kerala unit of the Congress kick-starting a campaign from Pinarayi, the native village of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Kannur district, holding the CPI(M) solely responsible for the political bloodshed? The CPI(M) has a complaint that the BJP –RSS had made the visit of National Women’s Commission chairperson Lalitha Kumarmangalam to Kerala in the wake of the recurring political violence, a political stunt. Their complaint is that the chairperson had only met those from the BJP-RSS and the Congress families during her visit to the Pinarayi village though violence in that region had erupted following the killing of a CPI(M) man during the victory rally on May 19.

Arguments and counter arguments apart, it is a known fact that the CPI(M) and the BJP-RSS are equally responsible for what is happening in Kerala, especially in North Malabar. To a certain extent, the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League also have a role in the escalating political violence in North Kerala. During and after the Kerala Assembly elections 2016, more than 150 cases have been registered in Kerala alone against activists of various political parties.

The first thought to haunt me, almost four decades after my own experience as a Student Federation of India (SFI) area committee functionary, was how all the political killings in North Kerala began. I had been searching for an answer to this question soon after joining the Nirmalagiri College, Kooothuparamba in 1977. Koothuparamba is one of the notorious killing fields in Kannur. MV Jayarjan, currently a CPI(M) state secretariat member, was the then SFI area committee secretary and I was made his deputy just because I could campaign in English against the Kerala Students Union (KSU) that still holds sway in the same college. I was right out of a Capuchin Monastery where magazines like Himmath criticising the autocratic line of Indira Gandhi were available for reading. This apart, my father was a confirmed socialist and a local functionary of the Congress Syndicate, a faction in the Congress that had become part of the Janata Party by that time.

In the 1977 college union elections, the SFI and the ABVP fought together against the KSU. But barely a kilometre away at Thokkilangadi, known as an RSS belt, CPI(M) workers were getting killed. Though born and brought up at Kolakkad which forms part of the then Koothuparamaba Assembly segment, I could not understand why this was happening. My enquiries with the local CPI(M) leaders and my ABVP friends were quite revealing. It all started with the killing of Vadikkal Ramakrishnan in 1969 for opening an RSS shakha in a CPI(M) bastion.

It was just the beginning. 1971 witnessed a communal riot in Thalassery. The rivalry between the CPI(M) and the RSS worsened with the former playing the role of protector of Muslims in the Thalassery region.

Once again, my old Communist friend was forthright in his views. “The BJP-RSS in Kerala are at it again. Why should the Communists make things worse? We all know that it started with a miscalculation and wrong political understanding. We had the beedi workers to protect but opposition to the shakhas made all the difference. We don’t believe in the RSS ideology. It is high time that Pinarayi takes the initiative to broker peace with the RSS with the help of Modi. Otherwise things will go out of control,” he said.

Yes; he is true. Much blood has been shed. Mothers have lost their sons while wives have ended up as young widows and marriages have been aborted owing to the continuing feud blinded by politics. Violence and bloodletting still continue. Forget the past and look forward to a different Kerala. The only solution to the present situation is not an all-party meeting but a one-to-one talk between the CPI(M) and the RSS. Let Pinarayi Vijayan take the lead. 

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