CPM Kerala chief Kodiyeri Balakrishnan denied that his party was culpable in any way in the state’s political killings and rejected allegations that his party-men aimed to eliminate those from rival fronts. Instead, he said that his party would rather wish those from BJP were alive so that they can be brought into the CPM tomorrow.
“RSS grows in India through communal violence. Like other parts, you cannot foment communal riots here (in Kerala). So here, they are trying to destroy the Marxist party. We don’t need to do that. Only when a BJP worker is alive tomorrow, can he join the Communist party. If he is not there tomorrow, how can he turn? So many BJP leaders are coming towards us…OK Vasu, Unnikrishnan, Asokan have all joined us. We are not trying to eliminate anyone. No communist will think like that because that person should join us tomorrow. Only if workers of other parties are alive can they join the communist party. So we don’t wish to take anyone’s life,” said Balakrishnan in an exclusive interview to indianexpress.com.
Since the LDF government came to power in Kerala in May 2016, 11 people are reported to have been killed in political clashes, most of them belonging to the CPM and the RSS/BJP. The murder of Youth Congress worker SP Shuhaib, allegedly by CPM workers, earlier this year is a part of the casualty list. Police records of political killings since 1995 have shown that both the CPM and the BJP/RSS have been affected equally, with an almost equal number of victims on both sides. It also shows the violence goes up exponentially when the Left is in power, as compared to the Congress.
Balakrishnan, who hails from Thalassery in Kannur, said his party has historically been at the receiving end of the violence, starting with the British, then the Congress and followed by the RSS/BJP.
“CPM was not responsible for the start of murder politics in Kerala. During the British-era, our workers were shot dead. They have been hanged after being implicated in false cases. Moyarath Sankaran, a Congress leader, became a Communist. He had published the history of Congress party in Malayalam. Congress killed him. There have been several incidents like that on Communist leaders but there was never a retaliation. After British left, Congress workers began attacking Communists. In Salem jail, 32 of our workers were killed. Despite such incidents, our party did not die,” he told indianexpress.com.
He added, “Naturally when such attacks, especially by thugs, happened, our workers started defending. In such incidents, Congress workers have been killed. PSP (Praja Socialist Party) used to attack us in certain centres. Muslim League also, so we have been targeted by all parties. In Kerala, CPM martyrs are close to 600, out of which 217 have been murdered by BJP. The CPM has been found culpable in some incidents, I don’t deny that. But we want to avoid such incidents.”
After a slew of attacks last year, the leadership of the CPM and the BJP/RSS sat down to talks in Thiruvananthapuram in a bid to control the vitiated atmosphere and rein in their cadres. This was followed by discussions at provincial level in Kannur. But unfortunately, such deliberations have not found reason. Twin murders, within the space of half an hour, reported in Mahe this year have proved how fruitless the talks have been.
Yet, the CPM leadership is clear that it is willing to take the initiative to suppress violence.
“…one party alone cannot solve this. There has to be consonance of opinion and CPM is ready to lead the initiative. We believe in politics, there is no space for attacks because we are the worst victims. Because, we are in control of the administration now. In politics, there have to be discussions on principles and no weapons can strengthen any form of politics. With the help of a weapon, no party can be eliminated as well,” said Balakrishnan, sitting in his party office in Thiruvananthapuram.
“Even now, when there’s violence, BJP leaders get in touch with us and there’s communication at the regional level. We will also act on our part and try to reduce violence,” he added.