On Tuesday, when three local leaders of the CPM were sentenced to life imprisonment in Kozhikode on charges of conspiring to kill a former party leader who had floated a rebel outfit, the party embraced three rebels from the BJP in neighbouring Kannur district. They too had formed a parallel outfit, Narendra Modi Vichar Manch.
Another intriguing feature of the decision to absorb the rebels is that some of them had been allegedly involved in murdering CPM cadres.
The BJP rebellion in Panur, a Sangh Parivar stronghold in Kannur, had erupted two months ago under the leadership of former district leaders O K Vasu and A Ashokan. Vasu and Ashokan were received with red garlands by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in Panur Tuesday evening. The BJP rebels declared their Narendra Modi Vichar Manch has merged with the CPM.
Kannur district, particularly Panur region, has a long history of bloody political battles between the CPM and the Sangh Parivar. Hundreds belonging to either side had lost their lives in clashes. A group of BJP leaders with a few hundred followers shifting their loyalties towards arch-rival CPM marks a departure from tradition in the region’s politics, where right-wing Muslim outfit Popular Front of India too has managed to gain ground.
According to sources, dissidence in the Kannur unit of the BJP stemmed from the party’s reluctance to take action against the present district leadership. Vasu and Ashokan had complained against some district leaders, questioning their personal lifestyles and financial irregularities. But the party rubbished the allegations and stood with the official leadership, triggering the revolt.
The Narendra Modi Vichar Manch was floated in November after Vasu, Ashokan and others were sacked. Besides political issues, the business interests of certain leaders had led to the present crisis in the BJP, say leaders.
Though this implies the party is losing its grip in Panur, the BJP state leadership is unmoved. “We don’t expect a mass shift of our workers to the CPM. A few sacked leaders are joining the CPM. We haven’t got any complaint from the rebels against the party leadership in Kannur,’’ said BJP state president V Muraleedharan.
The BJP state president said the cracks in the party in Panur are not deep enough to require any damage control. And the reception given to the rebels shows the quandary the CPM finds itself in, he said.
When Vasu and Ashokan were leading the party in Kannur, several CPM activists had been killed, allegedly by the BJP. But the CPM’s district secretary P Jayarajan exonerates the rebel leaders. “The Sangh Parivar attack on the CPM workers was part of an all-India agenda. It is futile to blame any particular BJP leader for the attacks. These leaders (Vasu and others) have snapped ties with the BJP after bitter experiences,” said Jayarajan, who has been brutally attacked by Sangh Parivar activists in the past.
At the CPM reception Tuesday, Vasu expressed regret for his past “verbal attacks” against Marxist cadres.
With the families of murdered CPM activists not happy that the party has welcomed the rivals, the CPM has gone to these families to convince them about the political situation. The families would have little option but to accept the decision, for the party is still financially helping the families with money deposited in the Kannur district cooperative bank.
The decision to take in the BJP rebels would help the CPM gain access to some Sangh Parivar pockets in the district, but the party would simultaneously run the risk of losing the support of the Muslim community.