October 5, 2017 4:22:27 am
As the BJP makes an ambitious and aggressive bid to gain acceptance in Kerala and the CPM vociferously counters it, the Congress is cautiously watching from the sidelines. The grand old party admits that the BJP’s moves will charge up its cadres, but hopes Kerala is not yet ready to open up its arms to the saffron party. At the same time, there is a realisation that the BJP is getting some traction among the students and the youth.
The Congress had always blamed the CPM for the political attacks in its bastion Kannur. It has also criticised the BJP and the RSS for indulging in tit-for-tat violence. Given that, the Congress cannot argue political violence is an non-issue. But the sense in the Congress is that the Janraksha Yatra flagged off by BJP president Amit Shah will not upset the LDF versus UDF binary although it believes the CPM is helping the BJP carve out a space for itself to weaken the Congress.
Party leaders said the CPM is going out of the way to project that it alone was fighting the BJP tooth and nail, perhaps with an eye on the sizeable Muslim and Christian vote banks and the large progressive and secular constituency in the state.
Talking to The Indian Express, former chief minister Oommen Chandy said the people of Kerala will not accept the “divisive agenda” of the BJP. “The political and social background of Kerala is like that. Its progressive nature and outlook suggests that. The BJP has so far not adopted a political line accepting this reality. In fact, it is the CPI(M) which has provided space to the BJP… to make some presence,” Chandy said.
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He said the BJP’s relevance is only because of the CPI(M)’s politics of violence and the saffron party trying to counter it. “Beyond that, the BJP will not be able to politically advance. They have several limitations. But it is the CPM which is giving the BJP unnecessary importance because of the violence. I don’t think they are not realising that. It is their politics. They think it would help weaken the Congress and a weak Congress will benefit them,” he added.
Chandy admitted that the BJP has managed to gain some traction in colleges. “In colleges, when they (CPM) bring in political violence, the impression is that such violence can be fought only by the BJP… That is there….”
He also said the CPM government has given too much importance to Shah. “I am not talking from a security point of view…but in many other ways…. He has been given so much importance,” he said.
Senior Congress leader P C Chacko said Shah’s yatra is a “good exercise for the leaders and the rank and file” of the BJP. “But beyond that it is not going to make any impact in Kerala politics,” he said.
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