BJP president Amit Shah’s recent Kerala visit has turned out to be a damp squib. The propaganda blitz unleashed by the BJP leadership ahead of Amit Shah’s visit suggested the party was to make a ‘political coup’ in the southern state by roping in some important opposition leaders into their fold. BJP leaders were giving hints that they would strike a kind of deal with some minority organisations. But all this has been faltered and local media reported that Amit Shah was not happy about how the saffron party is managing affairs in Kerala. According to reports, Amit Shah directed state leaders to learn from the experience of Gujarat. How the party fortified its hold over that state.
Developments that is being unfolded in the state indicates that the BJP state leadership has taken seriously what their supreme leader has said. Going by the recent events suggest that creating turmoil and provoking political opponents are the strategies evolved in the brainstorming sessions in which Amit Shah presided.
When the CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury was heckled at party headquarters in New Delhi by the Hindutva elements, a defensive Sangh Parivar resorted to weird way to turn the tide of popular against them. On the same day, BJP Thiruvananthapuram district committee office was ‘attacked’ by unidentified people. Though there is a CCTV camera mounted on the wall of district committee office, it ‘went off’ just before the ‘attack’.
This, naturally, has triggered suspicion that the ‘attack’ might not be the handiwork of political opponents but an ‘operation’ carried out by insiders. A social media message, condemning the ‘attack’, emerged even before ‘bombs were thrown’. Despite this, the BJP leadership were quick to ‘capitalise’ on this incident. Hartal calls were given by the party leadership and they minced no words in condemning the red terror unleashed by the Marxists in the state. But the mystery shrouding the attack blocked Sangh Parivar from reaping political gain from the ‘attack’.
Whatever be the real story behind the Thiruvananthapuram attack and the political ignominy it brought, Sangh Parivar is undaunted. On Friday early morning, bombs were hurled at the CPI(M) Kozhikode district committee office and the ruling party alleges RSS hand in it. This attack has triggered counterattacks against some of the BJP local offices in the northern part of the state. And CPI(M) and the BJP have called for a hartal in the district.
Of late BJP has been calling for hartals at the slightest provocation and it is said that they have called more than 40 hartals in the last two years.
What does this suggest? Is the BJP, which is unable to break the binary of Keala politics – CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front and Congress-led United Democratic Front – resorting to ‘obnoxious’ methods to make political inroads?
Though the BJP has registered a phenomenal increase in their voting share in the recent elections, it could not translate this into seats, perhaps due to the peculiar socio-political atmosphere prevailing in the state. When every other state seems to be falling for them, Kerala till now refused to budge. But now, as it seems, RSS can’t wait. So, special attention is being given to the southern state, and though the state has only 20 Loksabha seats, party national leaders frequent Kerala and guide the state leaders. The national council of the BJP which was held in Kozhikode in September last year has given concrete plans for the state leadership to follow.
The public relation operations of the Sangh Parivar have till now ensured that the violence unleashed by saffron organisations get scant coverage in the national and regional media. Not just that, Sangh Parivar, with its deft handling of the media, has ensured that the focus remains on the ‘red terror’ of the CPI(M). Though there is no denying the fact that the CPI(M) resorts to violence in the state to counter the RSS, the developments after LDF came to power show the concerted manner in which Sangh Parivar using violence as a tool to advance their political reach. The recent killing of two Muslims in Malappuram and Kasargod districts is a clear reflection of the Sangh strategy to polarise people to make political gains. RSS cadres were arrested in these cases.
Sangh Parivar’s interest towards Kerala is well known. Kerala has the largest number of RSS ‘shakhas’ with its number increasing every year according to some reports. With a party member getting elected to the State Assembly for the first time and many of its candidates getting more than 50,000 votes, the party feels it is in striking distance in the southern state which has been elusive to them.
But breaking the LDF–UDF binary in Kerala politics is easier said than done. Other than some small groups, no significant political party till now has expressed their willingness to align with the saffron party.
The violence and hate campaign unleashed without any qualms by the Sangh Parivar organisations show that they are indeed learnt lessons and is following Amit Shah’s fast. The Sangh Parivar leaders now publically resort to hate campaigns against religious minorities every other day, while the Congress-led opposition looks other way and sharpens their attack solely against CPI(M) oblivious of the inherent danger it portends for secular fabric of the state.
The question is whether Kerala, which has not fallen to the machinations of the saffron groups, will remain insurmountable to them in the future also. The RSS and the political reactions of those opposing them have made it difficult to answer this question in the affirmative.