“They are from Bombay, so you need to say it in Hindi. Jao”. In Bheeshma Parvam, the 2022 Mammootty film that earned tremendous success in box office, the protagonist, Michael (Mammootty), an ex-crime patriarch tells to his aide which is a warning to the villain who came from Mumbai to finish off Michael. The protagonist, who does not want to have a fight, warns the villain from Mumbai that they are at the wrong place and would be better to leave.
This dialogue is now being celebrated in the Malayalam social media again after two months of its release — this time as a response to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal who visited Kerala on Sunday. Kejriwal, who announced the new coalition, PWA (People’s Welfare Alliance) with Twenty 20, the regional political party hosted by Kitex Group, made a public speech in Hindi in which he asked Kerala to learn from Delhi model of education and primary health care.
Kejriwal’s call for Kerala to learn from ‘Mohalla clinics’ invited widespread contempt as Kerala is said to be far ahead of all states in successfully running primary healthcare centres. According to the data released by the National Health Mission (in 2020), the 12 best primary centres in the country are located in Kerala. The state has won the award for the best primary centres in the previous year as well. Out of 931 primary healthcare centres, 670 had been converted to family healthcare centres with enhanced facilities. Delhi on the other hand has only 522 Mohalla clinics.
Social media takes ire out on Kejriwal
Kejriwal is receiving angry responses across social media for belittling Kerala’s achievements in school education and primary healthcare. In the recent statistics provided by Niti Ayog, Kerala ranks top in most of the social development indicators. Finance minister K N Balagopal told the media that Kejriwal is free to preach politics but cannot twist facts. He said the Delhi chief minister may check the statistics of the Niti Ayog and find where Kerala is.
“AAP and Twenty 20 are natural allies for both are known for their contempt towards worker’s right,” writes S R Praveen, a journalist on his Facebook. “Anganwadi workers in Delhi have been protesting for long because the AAP govt has not been giving them minimum wages (last hike was way back in 2017), while Kitex employees are also denied proper wages and are made to live in deplorable conditions. To come to Kerala and ask people to join AAP if they want schools and hospitals, takes a total lack of understanding about the state and its achievements in health and education. It is when such visitors from up north arrive here with dubious intentions that Malayalis make wilful use of their Hindi knowledge to say ‘Jao’,“ writes Praveen.
Kejriwal’s made his public speech at Kizhakkambalam, a hub of migrant workers and the ‘head quarters’ of Twenty 20, the political party formed by the Kitex Group of Companies. The public meeting was organised by Twenty 20 in which majority of the people attended had been migrant workers. Despite having fluency in English, Kejriwal’s choice of Hindi for his speech also invoked displeasure as it is being seen as a sign of imposition of Hindi. Hence most of the responses in social media adopted the dialogue delivered by Michael in Bheeshma Parvam to make ‘them understand that this is not the place for them’.
Kejriwal in his speech said that no one knew AAP or him ten years ago and now the party is running the capital. “This is magic. AAP formed governments in Delhi and Punjab with the grace of god. We will create change in Kerala too with the help of the almighty,” he said. Kejriwal said that if AAP gets a chance to form the government in Kerala, it would provide electricity for free as it does in Delhi.
AAP promises seen with suspicion
However, lot of Malayalees living in Delhi come up with responses that this claim of free electricity is not true. “When you exalt your own self and posture as some kind of alternative, you try to base it on the ground realities. If you peddle lies, we nip it in the bud, the hypocrisy will be exposed, the memes start to float around,” Deepa Khadar, a Bangalore-based medical professional scribbled in her Facebook ridiculing AAP.
”Don’t carry coal to New Castle,” writes Prasanth Alappuzha, a UAE-based chartered accountant. “When you go to a new place to build a political party, you have to get the basics of the place and how to explore yourself,” he adds.
“AAP is nothing but an enabling entity of BJP. The innocent souls, who don’t know it, may kindly refer the history,” says Shaji Rema, an IT professional at Thiruvananthapuram, on his Facebook page.
Kejriwal criticised for being selective
Kejriwal has also been widely critiqued for not saying a word against the policies of the Centre, and on issues like oil price hike and inflation. “AAP is a party born out of a movement among the urban middle class in Delhi against corruption. Hence, neither AAP nor Kejriwal is able to take positions on the fundamental issues as communal divide, riot, price hike and inflation,” T N Seema, former member of Parliament and the State Committee member of CPI(M) told The Federal.
“Kejriwal has to understand that the people of Kerala will not be impressed by the mere offers of freebies. The people of Kerala are highly sensitive to their rights and they are very well aware that anything offered by a government is not a sign of benevolence, but it’s their right. Any political party has space to work, but they have to prove their potential by working among the people and not by seeking easy routes by aligning with a corporate political party like Twenty20,” Seema said.