The Kerala BJP leadership, which came under severe criticism within the party for its “under performance” in the Vengara byelection, got a shot in the arm when CPM’s Janajagrata Yatra (march to keep the people vigilant) rammed into a Mini Cooper belonging to a hawala accused in Kozhikode’s Koduvally town. The Left had decided to launch its Jagrata Yatra from the north and south simultaneously to counter the growing influence of BJP in the state and to keep the cadre aware of “looming fascism”. But within days of its journey from the north, the yatra got mired in controversy regarding the party’s growing nexus with the underworld and shady politicians. By getting into a Mini Cooper owned by one Karat Faizal, an alleged smuggler and younger brother of the CPM-backed legislator of Koduvally, Karat Razak, yatra leader and state CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan inadvertently exposed the party’s “true colours”. BJP state secretary K. Surendran was the first to puncture the yatra by posting on Facebook the picture of a beaming Kodiyeri in the vehicle, now found to be falsely registered in neighbouring Puducherry. Though Kodiyeri and many of his comrades tried to justify his action, the party was in pains for the rest of the journey until it bumped into another Cooper in the form of Thomas Chandy, state transport minister, who is facing corruption charges. Chandy practically broke the axle of the Left Front by daring the government to take action against him. By the time the yatra crawled to an end, people of Kerala got a glimpse of CPM’s concerns regarding BJP with many wondering whether there was anything left of Marxism in the Marxist party.
With Congress’ own version of “Padayorukkam (preparation for battle)”, led by opposition leader and former state president of the party, Ramesh Chennithala, a non-starter for all practical purposes, the state BJP has decided to project itself as the only alternative to the CPM in the state. With this in view, the party has drawn a blueprint of its strategy at the just concluded state committee meeting in Alappuzha, central Kerala, known also as the Venice of the East. The party will launch its movement from here by exposing how the Left Front continues to shield known law breakers such as minister Chandy. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is unmoved even after the district collector has submitted a report in which Chandy’s violations have been specifically pointed out. BJP contends that there is a conscious effort by the government to suppress the report and instead has sought legal advice from the state advocate general, C.P. Sudhakara Prasad, who is said to be very close to the Chief Minister. Hence, the party does not see any action being taken against the minister in the near future. This is despite that fact that Pinarayi had dropped two ministers who were not as guilty as Chandy from his ministry in the past one year. But in Chandy’s case, the CM has been more lenient since the minister is known for his wealth and CPM of late has been giving tickets to moneybags in order to gain electoral benefits. BJP’s Yuva Morcha has been taking out protest marches to the minister’s controversial lake resort here, allegedly built on government land. Interestingly, a government that proclaims to be with the people in their struggles has been brutal in using police force to put down the agitations.
In north Kerala, the party will focus on “CPM’s growing association with smugglers and terror groups”. BJP insiders feel that here the Cooper incident will come in handy since it is very much in the memory of the people. Gold smuggling is rampant in the region and CPM has in the past been accused of tacitly supporting its cadre indulging in such questionable activities. It is a fact that many of these smugglers have links with Islamic terrorists operating worldwide. BJP aims to target CPM on this front too. “Most ISIS activists are located in CPM strongholds. ISIS recruitments are mainly from these areas, with many of the recruits taking refuge in CPM villages. It is CPM which encourages Islamist terror in order to weaken the growth of the Sangh Parivar in many areas of Malabar,” BJP state general secretary K. Surendran said. Along with this, the party will also launch a protest seeking Central action against continuing gold smuggling through Karippur international airport. Many of these smugglers are hand in glove with Left legislators, Surendran alleged, while releasing photographs of wanted offenders with CPM representatives. According to him, it is the LDF government which is facilitating their safe movement within the state, a grave allegation that the government has denied.
Simultaneously, BJP also plans to expose “CPM’s hollow claims on being the sole protectors of the poor”. According to Surendran, Chandy is a classic example of where CPM loyalty stands. A party which takes credit for land reforms in Kerala is now protecting someone who owns 208 acres of land, a BJP press release said. It is these double standards of CPM that BJP plans to take to the people in days to come.