In a no-holds-barred attack, Kerala CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has termed Ramesh Chennithala the ‘sarsanghchalak’ within the Congress and has accused him of adopting Hindutva tactics and deepening the policies of the RSS within his party. Balakrishnan made the scathing allegations in an article in party mouthpiece Deshabhimani Friday, setting off the first round of a political war of words three months ahead of the crucial local body polls.
“In issues like Ayodhya, triple talaq and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the Congress has always tried out its soft Hindutva card, making the ‘hand’ symbol more attractive than the ‘lotus’. That’s why in Ayodhya, when saffron forces destroyed the mosque, then Congress leader PV Narasimha Rao joined in. Following in the footsteps of Rao’s legacy is the Congress leader of Opposition Chennithala here,” wrote Balakrishnan.
“Chennithala is the son of an RSS sympathiser and it’s no surprise that Janmabhumi (mouthpiece of the RSS in Kerala) advocated for him. He dons the uniform of RSS workers in Kerala, better than them. When BJP state president levels allegations against the Pinarayi Vijayan government in the morning, Chennithala would repeat it before the sun goes down. The Congress-RSS friendship doesn’t end there. Chennithala has transformed into the RSS’ Sarsanghchalak within the Congress.”
The CPM leader claimed that the Congress, the BJP and the Muslim League view the LDF, and chiefly the CPM, as their main rival. That’s why, he said, they take great pleasure in fabricating stories about the Vijayan administration and trying to topple the government.
Balakrishnan cited an example of the vote-margins in the Haripad constituency in the 2016 Assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls between the Congress and the BJP to make his case against Chennithala. He said the Congress lost about 14,000 more votes in the LS polls than the votes Chennithala polled when he was elected from the same constituency in 2016. At the same time, the BJP received 13,253 more votes in the LS polls than the votes polled by its candidate in the 2016 Assembly polls, indicating a vote-transfer between the two parties. It’s because of such political understandings, he alleged, that the Congress-led UDF maintains silence in issues like Ayodhya.
In recent months, Chennithala, who sees himself as a potential contender for the post of the chief minister in 2021 should the Congress come to power, has emerged as the top critique of the LDF government launching allegations of corruption, nepotism and bad governance through press conferences every day. His allegations in the Sprinklr deal, role of pWc consultancy in the e-bus project and the recent gold smuggling case in which the CM’s former principal secretary is under probe of the NIA, have badly shaken the image of the LDF government. The Congress leader has relentlessly demanded the CM’s resignation after the latter’s office came under the scanner in the ongoing smuggling probe.
In October, Kerala is scheduled to hold the local body elections, widely seen as a precursor to the Assembly polls in May next year. The handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the political fallout of the gold smuggling case and the economic damages to the state in recent months are likely to be campaign issues for all three parties.
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