Amit Shah is leading the fortnight-long padyatra organized by his party and the RSS in Kerala. Simultaneously, the BJP-RSS have declared a daily demonstration at the CPI(M) headquarters in Delhi for the same period and in all state capitals against what they term "red terror" against the RSS by the CPI(M) in Kerala.
Yesterday, the first demonstration at the CPI(M) office was led by Jitender Singh, the minister in the Prime Minister's Office. So here we have an unprecedented political action by the ruling party running the central government in which the PMO is directly involved, demonstrating at the headquarters of a legally-recognized political party that is currently running two state governments.
The BJP is welcome to do so. In any case, with the police directly under the control of the central government, no one will dare deny permission, more so when the PMO is involved and when union ministers are leading the demonstrations. This is in spite of the problems commuters will face for two weeks as the daily demonstrations will block one of the most busy thoroughfares where the CPI(M) office is located in the heart of the capital. When political parties opposed to the BJP start demonstrating at BJP headquarters, hopefully they too will not be denied permission, or when workers and slum dwellers demand to march through these same roads, they too should not have to face barricades and water cannons.
The deployment of all the BJP-RSS brahmastras from Chief Ministers and union ministers to party leaders shows how desperate the BJP-RSS combine is to put the CPI(M) and the LDF in Kerala on the defensive. It has recognized that the Left and the red flag is a major hurdle to the Hindutva agenda both ideologically and through its pro-people alternate policies. It hopes to use its power at the centre to intimidate, bully and silence the CPI(M). But this is not going to happen.
Many decades ago, the Nazi ideology which inspired the formation of the RSS promoted the theory of the big lie. The Nazi regime's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels held that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. This is what the BJP lie-manufacturing machine is doing. In fact it can be said that the only manufacturing flourishing in India under the Modi regime is the manufacturing of lies in the RSS-BJP factories.
It claims that it is the victim in Kerala. This is far from the truth. Kerala police figures tell a different story. Between 2000-2016, 85 CPI(M) workers were killed by the RSS and in the same period, 65 RSS workers were killed.
It is horrible that a body count should be required for refuting the RSS' lies, but in this case, it is necessary to show that the RSS is not the victim as claimed by them. The first killing since the LDF took office was on the day that the election results were declared. RSS workers hurled bombs at a victory procession in the Chief Minister's own constituency, killing Raveendran, a CPI(M) supporter rejoicing in the victory of his leader Pinarayi Vijayan. Amit Shah's yatra started from Payyanur in the same constituency. This is the very area where, in June this year, a bomb-making factory reportedly run by the RSS was raided by the police and those involved were arrested. A huge cache of arms was also recovered by the police from a neighbouring place in which RSS workers were involved.
There is no doubt that being in office, the LDF government has the responsibility for ensuring a peaceful environment for democratic and political activity. These incidents are confined to a few pockets, in spite of attempts to spread them to other districts. The LDF government has taken serious initiatives including calling all-party peace meetings, but every time a decision is taken to eschew violence, and all political parties pledge to not support any political workers regardless of their affiliation if they indulge in violent activities, the agreement is broken by the RSS. Even taken from a narrow interest, it is self-evident that it is harmful for the LDF in office if political murders or violent clashes take place. Knowing this, the RSS-BJP is indulging in the most provocative actions to disturb the peace.
One of the examples being quoted by Amit Shah and others is the stone-throwing that took place against the BJP's state office in Thiruvananthapuram on the night of July 27- 28. It is being made out as though it was a planned conspiracy. What is the truth? Late that night, the home of the elected ward councillor who belongs to the CPI(M) was attacked by RSS men. They came on four motor bikes, broke the gate of his home, and smashed glass windows using stones and bottles. His very sick father was injured by the shattered glass. He had to be hospitalized. His five-year-old daughter who was near her grandfather when he got injured was inconsolable and terrified.
The ward councillor tried to follow the men who went in the direction of the BJP office which is near his home. He along with three or four others reportedly stoned the BJP office in retaliation. He was arrested the next day. The CPI(M) State Secretary strongly condemned his action and he was suspended from the party. A strong message was thereby given that such actions, whatever the provocation, are unacceptable. In contrast, the BJP leadership protected the men who had attacked, without any reason or provocation, the residence of the councilor. Even today, the BJP leadership is protecting them. This is the difference. The BJP and RSS by such examples of shielding the guilty are deliberately sabotaging the initiatives being taken by the Chief Minister to ensure peace.
The people of Kerala are familiar with this DNA. The first political murder by the RSS in Kerala was in 1968 when they killed a CPI(M) worker, C P Sulaiman, in Kozhikode district. The RSS chose Thalassery Taluk in the Kannur district of north Kerala as a special target for spreading its politics of hate and violence because of the area's social demography. A communal riot was orchestrated in Thalassery in December, 1971. The usual RSS methods of spreading lies about Muslim attacks on Hindu women, as well as attacks on temples, were utilized to rouse communal feelings against the substantial minority population of the area. Communist worker UK Kunhiraman was brutally killed by the RSS when he was defending a mosque against the RSS hordes. According to the Joseph Vithayathil Commission set up to inquire into the riots, it was the role of Communists which allowed the violence to be contained while it was the RSS which sought to rouse communal feelings and disrupt communal harmony. The Commission clearly blamed the RSS for the violence.
From 1971 to 2017, on this aspect, not much has changed - the role of both have remained the same. The role of communists is to defend communal harmony and the role of the RSS is to disrupt it.
But there are other things to be done. Kerala has taken great strides in new and innovative initiatives for people's development. Building on the strong base created by earlier Left-led Governments in Kerala, the present government has a special programme to strengthen the public education and public health systems in Kerala. The government has set up four missions with substantive budgetary allocations to strengthen the social sector, to provide employment opportunities and to invigorate the agricultural sector.
Communist leaders Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala and Manik Sarkar in Tripura as Chief Ministers have shown by example and policy how an alternative people-centred policy framework can be conceived and implemented even within the limited resources and powers available to a state government. That is why Amit Shah and his fellow Sangh Parivar leaders are running a personalized and vicious campaign against them.
Instead of following such a destructive agenda, it would be good if they studied the Kerala or Tripura models more closely. For example, the UP Chief Minister might well learn from the health system in Kerala how to prevent the horror of infant deaths in Gorakhpur. Raghubar Das, Jharkhand Chief Minister, could learn how the implementation of the Forest Rights Act for tribals in Tripura, backed by added initiatives by the state government, can bring a huge advance in the lives and livelihood of tribal communities.
But for that, Amit Shah and company would have to remind themselves that the motto is satya not asatya mev jayate.
Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha.
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