Does BJP stand a chance in saffronising Kerala, a state with 54% Hindus?
The CPI(M) and the RSS have been at loggerheads in Kannur in north Kerala for over 4 a long time now, each giving nearly as good as they received because the Sangh parivar outfit made inroads into the communist bastion. And that’s the place issues stood until final 12 months’s state elections when, after years of being no-
The CPI(M) and the RSS have been at loggerheads in Kannur in north Kerala for over 4 a long time now, each giving nearly as good as they received because the Sangh parivar outfit made inroads into the communist bastion. And that’s the place issues stood until final 12 months’s state elections when, after years of being no-hopers within the state, the BJP lastly managed a seat within the meeting. The trail to creating electoral inroads had opened, and the RSS-BJP was keen to drag out all of the stops.
Of late, political violence in Kerala has been a matter of some debate, and the celebration was fast to latch on to it. A concerted, polarising marketing campaign with the theme, ‘In opposition to jehadi-red terror’, was set in movement, the dual targets being Islamist terrorists and the ruling Marxists. BJP president Amit Shah flagged off the the ‘janaraksha yatra’ on October three and joined the march on the opening day. Even Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was roped in for a day throughout which he reasoned that the state ought to “act in opposition to love jihad, which is a rising concern in Kerala and contiguous Karnataka”.
These are just a few parts in a virulent marketing campaign through which the BJP and different entities of the Sangh Parivar accuse the Left Entrance authorities and CPI(M) chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan of “annihilating its political rivals”. The RSS-BJP claims that it has misplaced 125 employees to the violence since 2001 (Kannur police data between 2007 and 2017 put the determine at 37; 17 from the RSS-BJP, for the CPI(M), 16) .
Worse nonetheless, the campaigners allege, is the truth that the best incidence of violence is within the chief minister’s hometown, Pinarayi, the place 14 of them have been killed. Considerably, Shah missed the march by means of the city, as he returned to Delhi for different consultations, however promised to return earlier than the conclusion of the 14-day yatra, on October 17 on the southern finish of the state.
That is solely a part of the BJP’s formidable growth plan for the state. The celebration is hoping a sustained marketing campaign in opposition to the LDF will propel the celebration into rising because the main opposition within the state, eclipsing the Congress-led UDF. However for this, each the celebration and the militant RSS should enlist the rank and file like by no means earlier than. “The continuing effort has already shaken the CPI(M) bases in north Kerala. It is solely by strengthening the celebration and affiliate organisations that we are going to make a dent,” says a senior BJP chief, including that “the response up to now is encouraging”.
Clearly, it’s not simply wishful considering. “We’ve 200,000 energetic cadre and one other 193,000 followers. There are 5,200 day by day and 800 weekly shakhas now. All this we achieved in simply 5 years,” claims RSS state secretary P. Gopalan Kutty Grasp. The spurt is critical, with the RSS changing into a draw amongst college students and different youth. Kannur tops on this adopted by Alappuzha and Thrissur districts in central Kerala. In the meantime, the expansion of Sangh associates such because the commerce union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which in some locations has dislodged the Congress-affiliated INTUC, has additionally helped the BJP’s progress.
But, it’s removed from having fun with widespread attraction, even if 54.7 per cent of the inhabitants is Hindu. The irony is that within the nation’s most literate state, the Hindus are nonetheless caste-driven, making it a higher problem for the BJP. Which is one more reason why veteran celebration chief O. Rajagopal, elected to the legislative meeting final 12 months, took so lengthy to get there. Like his Nemom constituency, the neighbouring Kazhakoottam and Vattiyurkavu meeting constituencies (additionally a part of the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency) have lengthy been RSS strongholds, however the numbers by no means translated into seats.
“It’s the RSS’s success in attracting a bit of the Hindus that’s enabling the BJP right here,” says political commentator J. Ajith Kumar. “They might use an identical technique, projecting the RSS as the only real protectors of the Hindu majority to garner assist. The fixed harping on love jihad and crimson terror may spark a sectarian divide.” Different analysts are sceptical, although. “The RSS and the remainder of the Sangh parivar haven’t any future within the state because it practises ‘annihilation politics’. Its anti-minority tag can even not assist in Kerala,” says former MP Dr Sebastian Paul. He factors to the “demographic actuality of Kerala” as the key problem. “How do you saffronise a state with 26.7 per cent Muslims and 18.four per cent Christians in a inhabitants of 33.34 million?”
Echoing comparable sentiments, Malayalam brief story author and ex-bureaucrat N.S. Madhavan says, “The way forward for the RSS is bleak as a result of it has already hit saturation level, crossed the cusp of optimum progress in recent times. Its halo has little attraction because it intimidates the very soul of the state.” In his view, this technique of spreading disinformation will boomerang on the celebration.
Nevertheless, celebration president Shah has particular plans – he is eying the Ezhava vote financial institution, which accounts for about 39 per cent of the inhabitants. The Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), floated by Vellapally Nateshan of the Sree Narayana Dharama Paripalana Yogam, an Ezhava outfit, was purportedly the enabler within the BJP rising the NDA vote share in Kerala to 15.three per cent within the 2016 meeting polls. “Historically, the Ezhavas have been CPI(M) backers. So solely by successful them over can the BJP diffuse the clout of the Marxists. They’ve gained marginal acceptance in some pockets of central Kerala by aligning with the BDJS,” explains former legislator and Kerala Congress (Mani) faction chief Joseph M. Puthussery. That mentioned, the BJP’s ties with the BDJS have been rocky. Simply months again, a vacillating Vellapally was heard badmouthing the BJP central management on TV, although he quickly modified tack once more.
With all that’s occurring within the state, the CPI(M) nonetheless appears unperturbed. “Kerala’s secular society has by no means capitulated to their try to color the state in a communal color,” says state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishan. “We’re assured that we are able to struggle them politically. The folks of Kerala again our progressive agenda because the celebration stands for growth of the state.”
However on the bottom, they don’t seem to be taking any probabilities. In a deft counter technique, the Marxists are additionally organising comparable occasions like their very own ‘shobha yatra’ on the event of Sri Krishna Jayanti on September 12, and now a sequence of rallies to counter what BJP leaders have mentioned in the course of the janaraksha yatra. The BJP too realises that it’s in for an extended battle within the state. As former state president and lawyer P.S. Sreedharan Pillai places it, “Our plan will not be merely to extend vote share however construct up high quality cadre within the state.”