The CPM lashed out at the BJP on Monday, alleging that a cartoon on the front-page of Janmabhumi newspaper, known as the mouthpiece of the saffron party, used a casteist slur against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The cartoon had appeared in the Malayalam-language newspaper on December 22. It attempted to discuss the privilege motion brought out by the Congress-led Opposition in the Kerala Assembly against the CM on the ‘women’s wall’ — an event planned by the LDF government in which women will stand shoulder-to-shoulder along the entire length of the state to project the party’s solidarity with women in the ongoing Sabarimala row.
The cartoon shows two men discussing the privilege motion, with a caption that translates to “such things must be kept in mind while giving responsibility to someone who should climb coconut trees”. The caption has been widely seen as a dig at the chief minister’s background — Vijayan comes from the Thiyya community, engaged primarily in toddy-tapping. His father was a toddy-tapper.
The cartoon has generated widespread public condemnation on social media, with the BJP-RSS coming under fire.
While the BJP leadership has not commented so far on the cartoon, the CPM has stood up in arms against the saffron party. Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac wrote on Facebook that the cartoon exposes the inner mindset of the BJP’s leadership in Kerala. He said the cartoon is a disgrace to Kerala’s illustrious cartoon history,
CPM politburo member M A Baby said the newspaper should withdraw the cartoon and tender an apology for making a casteist jibe at the CM. “It shows that the Sangh Parivar is once again against the renaissance tradition of the state. The cartoon exposed the upper caste dominance in RSS,” said Baby. —With inputs from Thiruvananthapuram