The vandalism unleashed by Students Federal of India (SFI) activists in the office of Rahul Gandhi in Wayanadu, Kerala, puts the CPI (M)-lead LDF Government in Kerala in real trouble. Though the Chief Minister and the State Committee of SFI were quick to condemn the attack, the CPI (M) is struggling to explain the incident claiming that neither the party nor the State Committee of SFI had prior knowledge of such a plan.
So far, 19 SFI workers have been arrested and remanded including the District President and the Secretary of the organisation. The police continue to take more students into custody.
The Congress party organised statewide protests in Kerala alleging conspiracy behind the attack. V D Satheeshan, the opposition leader, dismissed CPI (M)’s claim that the party did not have prior knowledge of the attack. He also alleged that the chief minister’s act of condemning the attack is only pretence as the organisation has not yet taken any disciplinary action against the SFI workers who were involved in the attack. V P Sanu, the national President of SFI and Anu Sree, its State President, were ‘summoned’ to the AKG Centre by the party on Saturday. Both the student leaders told the media that there would be prompt action against those involved in the attack. “There is a procedure to be followed. We are looking into the matter, there will be an action soon,” said V P Sanu.
On the other hand, Congress leaders blame CPI (M) for not taking immediate disciplinary action against the Wayanadu district committee of SFI. V D Satheeshan alleged that this is indicative of the fact that CPI (M) has taken a soft stance towards the ‘goons who attacked Rahul Gandhi’s office’.
Also read: Protests turned violent; Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad office vandalised
Though student strikes are quite common in Kerala, the present one is an unusual one as far as the party and SFI are concerned. An entire District Committee of the student wing, including the District President and Secretary, have been put in the dock for a violent attack which cannot be justified by any means. The chances of dismissing the entire District Committee of SFI in Wayanadu cannot be ruled out, say CPI (M) sources. However, the opposition has decided to burn the issue to the maximum to antagonise people against the State government. Rahul Gandhi’s scheduled visit to Wayanadu on June 30 would be an occasion for the party to generate anger among people against the government.
The Congress leaders allege that the CPI (M)’s claim of not having prior knowledge of the incident is difficult to believe. The protest march to the office of Rahul Gandhi was a pre-planned one as it is clear from the Facebook page of the Wayanadu SFI Committee, a Congress leader said. The posters of the protest march were shared on the FB page days before the incident. The Wayanadu unit of SFI organised the demonstration to the office of Rahul Gandhi in protest against his ‘silence’ over the Supreme Court’s order on the forest buffer zones. The SFI workers, who barged into the MP’s office, placed a banana tree on Rahul’s Chair and allegedly threw the files and a picture of Mahatma Gandhi on the floor.
The CM’s office immediately issued a statement condemning the attack. “In our country, everyone has the right to protest democratically, but that should not result in excesses of any kind. Strict action will be taken against the culprits,” the CM’s statement read. The CM’s office then issued another statement saying the Additional Director General of Police is entrusted with the responsibility to investigate the matter. The Home secretary has been told to submit a report within seven days. Besides, the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Wayanadu, who was in charge of the locality, has been suspended.
However, the violence demonstrated by the student organisation has put the State government under tremendous pressure. Avishith K R, one of the student activists suspected to be involved in the attack, is a former staff member of the Health Minister’s office. The police are yet to confirm Avishith’s arrest. Health Minister Veena George made it clear that Avishith worked in her office a month back but quit for some personal reasons. She denied the opposition’s charge that the Health Minister’s office was involved in the incident.
Congress leaders, who could not make an impact during protests against the government over the gold smuggling case, are now in an aggressive mode. “There is a limit to our patience. We will not stop the Congress workers even if they go violent now,” said K Muraleedharan, a Member of Parliament.
The CPI (M) has been forced to act strict against the culprits in no time because the Assembly session is scheduled to begin on Monday (June 27). It is clear that Kerala is going to witness more noisy days ahead.