RSS - CPI(M) Violence in Kerala

RSS - CPI(M) Violence in Kerala

On 01 Mar 17, RSS Mahanagar Prachar Pramukh of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Kundan Chandravat, while addressing a public rally said he would offer Rs. One Crore reward, to anyone who beheads Kerala CM, Pinarayi Ravi. 

How can we avoid bloodshed in politics?

On 01 Mar 17, RSS Mahanagar Prachar Pramukh of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Kundan Chandravat, while addressing a public rally said he would offer Rs. One Crore reward, to anyone who beheads Kerala CM, Pinarayi Ravi. Both the RSS and BJP have disowned the statement of Dr. Kundan, who continues to remain unrepentant.

Who Wields Political Power in the State?

The current bout of violence between RSS-BJP on one hand and the CPI(M) on the other, began with the latter’s emphatic win, in the state elections, in May 2016. In the 140-member Kerala Assembly, LDF won 91 seats, the UDF – 47 seats, with BJP and an Independent winning, one seat each. During the victory celebrations, RSS and CPI(M) workers clashed, resulting in 30 people being hospitalized.

Who is Responsible for the Violence?

On 18 Jan 17, a 53-year old BJP worker Santosh, was killed, allegedly by six CPI(M) workers, who have since been arrested. The incident took place in Andaloor in Dharmadam, the constituency of the CM, Pinarayi Ravi. On 26 Jan 17, a bomb was hurled near the venue of a public meeting, addressed by CPI(M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. 10 people belonging to BJP-RSS cadres, were taken into custody. In similar incidents over the last 10 months, there have been at least seven political murders, crude bomb incidents and several political clashes.

What is the History of the Conflict?

RSS and CPI(M) clashes in Kerala date back to 1948, when RSS Sarsanghchalak MS Gowlikar, attempted to address the public, in Thiruvananthapuram. In Kannur, Kerala’s northern most district, the CPI(M) consolidated a strong peasant base, by uniting workers against the land-owners. In the 70s, the RSS made inroads into the state, from neighboring Karnataka. Violence normally erupts, when other political parties attempt incursions into traditional CPI(M) strongholds. Thus far, the UDF have avoided the CPI(M) strongholds; thus, political rivalry between the main contenders of political power, the LDF and UDF, have not led to lasting hostility.

With the new political context of the state ruled by the CPI(M)-led LDF and the center ruled by the BJP-led NDA, the situation is more provocative and complex.

Assessment

Invariably, party workers will sometimes step out of line; even crossing legitimate thresholds. It may not be sufficient if political parties merely distance themselves from such activities; they should condemn it, pursue disciplinary action and ensure legal redress. For ordinary party worker, even perceived political patronage, is sufficient to embolden lawlessness and the cycle of violence. Taking disciplinary and legal action, against errant party workers will enhance public respect for those political parties. Some Political parties have urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Ravi to hold an all-party meeting to discuss and resolve the issue. The CM would do well to do so immediately.

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