Aiming to highlight what BJP alleges to be ‘red terror’ in Kerala, top BJP leaders and union ministers will march along with hundreds of party workers across the state to capital Thiruvanthapuram. The BJP alleges that ruling CPM is pursuing murder politics in the state. Prior to launch of the Yatra, BJP chief Amit Shah, dressed in a traditional Kerala dhoti, offered prayers at the Rajarajeshwara temple in the northern district of Kannur before launching his party’s Jan Raksha (protect people) yatra. In a direct challenge to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the BJP began its yatra in Payyannur, adjacent to his home town Pinarayi, in Kannur, notorious for decades of political violence.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, also the Hindutva face of the party, reaches Kannur tomorrow to participate in the yatra. Mr Shah who is in Kerala for three days, will address two public meetings today and will walk four km through Kannur. On Thursday, he will again join the yatra on foot as it crosses Pinarayi. The BJP has said the yatra will target “Jihadi-Red terror.” The party alleges a spike in murderous attacks on its workers and members in the state by the CPM cadre since the party came to power in Kerala last year, claiming that 14 of its members have been killed since then in Kannur alone and 120 in all of Kerala since 2001. “More than 120 BJP workers have been martyred. What was thier fault?” said Amit Shah today, adding, “CPI(M) leader and Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan is directly responsible for all political murders in Kerala,” Amit Shah said today.
Hours before Mr Shah launched the yatra, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan used a Facebook post to hit back at the BJP saying, “The Sangh Parivar shouldn’t think that they can make inroads into Kerala by false propaganda. The state government is committed to ensure peace. Instead of fueling false stories and processions, people expect central ministers and ruling party leadership to control their workers and ensure peace.” The BJP has been a bit player in Kerala politics for years and it remains the only state where the party is yet to make significant electoral gains, but Amit Shah has been making focused efforts to gain a foothold ever since he took over as party chief in 2014. In last year’s assembly elections the party could win just a single seat in the 140-member Kerala assembly, but Mr Shah wants to change that, preferably before the 2019 national election, when he hopes Kerala will contribute to a BJP return to power. The party has never won a parliament seat from Kerala.
Kannur has for years witnessed clashes, especially between Left activists and those of the BJP and its ideological mentor the RSS. In the 16 months since May last year, when the CPM-led Left Democratic Front won the assembly elections in Kerala, there have been eight gruesome political murders – five BJP workers and three of the CPM have been killed allegedly by political rivals.
Crime Bureau statistics show that 45 CPM activists, 44 of the BJP, 15 of the Congress and four from the Muslim League have been killed since 1991 in Kannur.