Resentment in Kerala over Cong-CPM clashes; many feel Cong playing to BJP tune

While nationally the Congress is opposing the ED for targeting Rahul Gandhi and other leaders of the party, in Kerala it is demanding that ED book a case against chief minister P Vijayan

Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala

The political turmoil in Kerala is turning from bad to worse, with violent clashes between the Congress and the CPI-M workers being reported from many districts. Such is the situation that party flags have been burnt, stones pelted, and even a Gandhi statue was beheaded.

While protests by Congress turned violent in many places, CPI-M activists counter-attacked by marching to Congress offices in multiple places. The unexpected protest by three Congressmen inside the aircraft in which the chief minister was travelling from Kannur to Thiruvananthapuram shocked the CPI-M cadre. However, there is widespread resentment among people against the way the two parties have locked horns in Kerala, paying little attention to the happenings in the rest of the country.

While the CPI-M stands for Opposition unity at the national level, it blames the Congress for ‘lacking a sense of direction in national politics’.

“The CPI-M has a lot of differences with the Congress government in Rajasthan. Still, we believe in using every opportunity to single out the BJP, and thus we supported Congress candidates in Rajya Sabha (polls) though we have only two MLAs there. We exercised the same strategy in Maharashtra. With the sole intention of defeating the BJP, we supported the NCP there. This is the national policy that CPI-M has adopted,” says A A Rahim, member of the Rajya Sabha and the national president of DYFI.


Also read: Don’t try to intimidate: Kerala CM breaks his silence on fresh allegations

He blamed Congress for having only short-term goals to get power in Kerala. “The Congress has committed political suicide by fielding Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad. This is the best example corroborating our argument,” Rahim told The Federal. He also blamed Congress for ignoring protests outside Kerala against bulldozing of houses and misuse of central agencies against political opponents. “K C Venugopal was beaten up badly by police in New Delhi when he protested against ED’s case against Rahul Gandhi. The Congress in Kerala did not organise a single protest against this brutal police action. Instead, they demanded that ED should book Pinarayi Vijayan,” says Rahim.

‘CPI-M in Kerala different from CPI-M nationally’

V D Satheesan, the Opposition leader, dismissed Rahim’s arguments while talking to The Federal. “We organised protests against the police action in Delhi in Kerala, but it did not get much media coverage,” he said.

Satheesan argued that the CPI-M in Kerala is different from the party at the national level. “They speak for the unity of opposition parties at the national level, but their primary opponent is the Congress in Kerala,” says Satheesan. “During the party Congress that took place in Kerala (at Kannur in April 2022), the only objective of the CPI-M was to weaken the Congress,” he says, referring to seminars in which Congress leaders were invited to.

V D Satheesan

As far as Satheesan is concerned, having two different political strategies at the local level and the national level is nothing new. “CPI-M supported the UPA government, but in Kerala the Congress and CPI-M were at opposite ends,” he said.

Is the political situation similar to the one during the UPA tenure? Cultural activists, writers and political observers in Kerala beg to differ. There are many who hold the view that the Congress in Kerala is playing to the tunes set by the BJP-RSS. “I wholeheartedly condemn what the government agencies are doing to the leaders of the Indian National Congress. This is not politics. This is a dirty game. Sadly, the same game is being played in Kerala and the Congress is playing along,” says Professor Satchidanandan, the renowned poet and the President of Kerala Sahithya Academy.

“It is apparently very evident that the woman who is an accused in the gold smuggling case has become the tongue of the Sangh Parivar. It looks like Congress is working to achieve the goals set by the BJP in Kerala,” Dr P K Poker, writer and cultural activist, told The Federal, referring to the violent protest by the Congress demanding CM’s resignation.

“The entire nation is frozen by the bulldozer politics engineered by BJP in UP and other states. Civil society is completely silenced. Even Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi are being targeted. Despite all these, Congress is unsettling law and order in Kerala. There must be some ulterior motives behind it,” says Poker.

BJP support for Swapna

The BJP in Kerala has come out in open support of Swapna Suresh. R Krishnaraj, the lawyer defending Swapna, has often made hate comments against Muslim and Christian communities. Recently he was booked under 295A of IPC for hurting religious sentiments on a complaint filed by a Youth Congress activist. Krishnaraj posted the picture of a KSRTC driver, a Muslim having a beard and wearing a cap, with a hate comment against the community. KSRTC later clarified that the picture was a doctored one.

Moreover, BJP state president K Surendran categorically said that the party would provide legal assistance to Swapna if the government would arrest her counsel. “We will bring 1,000 lawyers for Swapna, we will not let her to be alone,” said Surendran.

Also read: Pinarayi using all ways to block gold smuggling case probe: BJP

“Kerala is an island of hope for people living in other states,” says Dr Yassir Arafat, historian and Assistant Professor at Delhi University. He said that those who live in Kerala would never understand the insecurity being experienced by people ‘like us’ on a daily basis. “The Sangh Parivar is trying its level best to unsettle Kerala and the Opposition is acting as per the script written by the Sangh Parivar,” says Dr Arafat.

The gold smuggling case, he feels, is nothing but an attempt to destabilise the secular fabric of the state as none of the investigating agencies could find any substance in it despite investigating it for more than a year.

Satheesan, however, justified the on-going protests by the Congress. “Central agencies have compromised with the government in Kerala. That is the reason the investigation could not achieve any breakthrough,” he said.

On the one side, the Congress is opposing the ED for targeting Rahul Gandhi and other leaders of the party, on the other, it alleges that the ED is helping CPI-M and the Chief Minister.

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