Having made “CPM-sponsored” violent politics a key election plank in Kerala, the BJP has chosen a victim of violent politics to take its message across to Kannur’s Koothuparamba constituency, site of some of the most brutal political killings in the past.
S Sadanandan, 52, has prostheses for his both legs. As he extensively tours the constituency, the stumps of his legs in contact with the prostheses bleed occasionally. When that happens, he rests for a while before resuming his travels.
A schoolteacher, Sadanandan had lost both legs in 1994 in an attack allegedly by CPM cadres.
“‘On February 6 that year, I had stepped down from a bus at Uruvachal near Mattannur and was walking towards my home at Perunchery. It was 8.30 pm,” he recalled. “A gang suddenly started hurling bombs, seeking to create a scare, and people started running and shut their shops. The gang approached me from behind and caught me. They laid me down on the road, then hacked both my legs below the knee and threw them away.”
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Sadanandan said no one dared come to help him until police arrived and took him to hospital.
Sadanandan said he was targeted because of his RSS connection — he used to be sahakarya vahak in Kannur — although he hailed from a family of communists. “My father and brother had been with the CPM,” he said. “In 1984, I joined the RSS, which provoked the CPM. Since then I was on their hit-list.” He said a trial court had convicted eight accused, all CPM members, but they got bail from the high court which stayed the verdict.
After a few months in hospital, Sadanandan returned to his school, which was struggling for want of enough students. The BJP then took it upon itself to rehabilitate Sadanandan, who was appointed as sub-editor with BJP mouthpiece Janmabhumi. In 1999, he joined as a teacher with a school run by the Sangh Parivar in Thrissur.
Even after the attack and the trauma that lingered, Sadanandan said, he remained very active with the Sangh Parivar. “The party wanted me to contest to highlight the political violence. I was attacked without any provocation,” said Sadanandan, having returned to Kannur 22 years after the attack.
“My village used to be a CPM stronghold. Now the RSS has gained ground,” he said. “We have scores of young men coming in from families formerly with CPM.”
Sadanandan said he was getting a very encouraging response from voters. “People are tired of violence. They want to live peacefully,” he said.