With an eye on establishing the BJP’s presence in one of the states almost completely out of its reach thus far, BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday launched his party’s strongest and most strategic political pitch in Kerala by taking out a 14-day march from Payyannur, a Communist bastion, to protest against what the party calls “red terror”.
Although the BJP and the RSS maintains that Islamic terrorism has intensified in Kerala recently, and although it is one of the two themes of Shah’s yatra, there were not many reference to “Islamic terrorism” by either Shah or other speakers today.
The BJP president in his speech, and the party cadres through their slogans, made clear who the target is: Kerala Chief Minister and CPI(M) Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan.
Shah’s Janraksha Yatra, with the theme “All Have To Live: Against Jihadi-Red Terror”, travelled 9 km from Payyannur to Pilathara on Tuesday.
Hundreds of political workers — from both BJP-RSS and the CPI(M) — have died in violence between the two sides over the decades. The BJP claims violence against its workers increased after Vijayan took charge last year.
In an attempt to set the tone for the yatra, Shah and almost all the speakers tried to focus on “exposing the violent and terror politics” of the CPI(M). To spice things up, there has been an exhibition of gory pictures of political violence in an effort to highlight what the party calls “martyrdom” of RSS and BJP workers, killed allegedly by CPI(M) activists in the region. The party made special seating arrangements for family members of slain party workers on the left side of the dais.
Issuing a challenge to the chief minister, Shah said, “I am telling you, Mr Vijayan, bloodstains of those 84 RSS/BJP workers killed in Kannur are on your clothes…. Vijayanji, I want to tell you, no matter how much muck you are creating out of violence here, you should know that the lotus will bloom in that mud.”
The BJP president also criticised “human rights activists” for being “selective” in their condemnation of violence. “I want to remind the champions of human rights that violence has no colour,” he said. “Red violence is also violence. What crime have they (BJP/RSS workers killed allegedly by CPIM workers) done? That they joined a stream of thought that keeps nationalism and its interests above all? Don’t you consider these families’ loss as a loss? Your silence raises questions.”
From the dais in Payyannur, which has a rich history of patriotism and revolutionary politics, BJP leaders repeatedly said, “If the Communist party began from Pinarayi (the CM’s village in Kannur district), the BJP has begun the work to destroy that party from Pinarayi itself.”
At the end of the day’s march, Shah addressed the cadres at Pilathara and said, “(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi has ended the politics casteism, dynasty and appeasement. And now you are going to end the communist politics of violence.”
Shah also announced that BJP workers in Delhi will march to the CPI(M) headquarters in Delhi every day until October 17, when the Janraksha Yatra is scheduled to conclude in Thiruvananthapuram. “BJP workers will take out protest marches in all state capitals in the country. To keep your spirits up, BJP chief ministers, Union ministers and Central leaders will walk with you in the coming days from different locations,” Shah said.
On Wednesday, the march, led by Kerala BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan, will be addressed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.