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As Opposition joins hands against K-Rail, CPM alleges ‘unholy political nexus’

Reacting to the CPI(M) allegation of an “unholy political nexus”, Opposition leader V D Satheesan told The Indian Express, “By making these allegations, the CPI(M) is insulting the people and their agitation. The CPI(M) is now speaking for an elite class."

Congress workers stage a protest against the police action on UDF MPs protesting against the K Rail project, in Kochi, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (PTI)

With protests led by the Opposition and civil society organisations disrupting the survey and social assessment for the proposed K-Rail Silverline project, the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala has opened a new battlefront — alleging that an “unholy political alliance’’ is at work against the government and the development of the state.

Over the last few months, almost the entire opposition – the Congress, BJP, the Indian Union Muslim League, and various Muslim outfits – has been campaigning against what is Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s pet project, a semi-high-speed rail corridor linking the southern and northern ends of Kerala.

Last week, as the protests intensified in at least six districts, with protesters uprooting survey stones, the authorities decided to temporarily halt the laying of survey stones. On Monday, however, the state government got past a major hurdle when the Supreme Court refused to stay the land survey process.

At meetings held by the CPI(M) and its youth wing, the DYFI, to win over people along the proposed alignment of the K-Rail project, the common refrain has been that a “Congress-BJP-League-Jamaat-e-Islami alliance’’ is working against the development of the state and that the Congress and BJP, rivals at the national level, have joined hands against the Left in Kerala.

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Speaking in Kannur on Wednesday, CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said, “Behind the K-Rail agitation in Kerala, there is an unholy alliance of the Congress, BJP, Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI. This alliance wants to torpedo development and trigger riots in the state. Which is why they are threatening a repeat of Nandigram in Kerala. They think this alliance can be continued till the next elections.”

Attacking the Congress, he added, “Just when an alliance against the Sangh Parivar is the need of the hour, the Congress has joined hands with the BJP to spread canards against the development agenda of the LDF.’’

Social activist Medha Patkar(C) and members of K-Rail Janakeeya Samara Samithi raise slogans during a protest march over the Silver Line project in Thiruvananthapuram, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (PTI)

The presence of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Social Democratic Party of India or the SDPI, the political outfit of the radical Popular Front of India, in the protests against the K-Rail has prompted the CPI(M) to blame “communal forces’’ who are “working against the government”.

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The DYFI, which has had a long history of protests in the state, has now emerged as the CPI(M)’s engine to campaign for the project. The DYFI is conducting around 500 meetings in support of the project along the proposed route of the K-Rail and at each of these, makes it a point to talk about the “UDF-BJP nexus” that’s allegedly working against the government.

At a recent event, DYFI state president S Satheesh said, “Believers of Islam see the BJP as their main opponent. But the IUML, a constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, has joined hands with the BJP to protest against the K-Rail.’’

Calling the CPI(M)’s allegation “cheap and baseless”, senior IUML leader and legislator K P A Majeed said the CPI(M) has realised that the protest has gained support from common people and is panicking. “That’s where their allegation comes from. The protest against the project is a people’s agitation, a mass movement, and political parties are only supporting it. The UDF is united in taking forward the agitation and we haven’t joined hands with any other party outside the UDF. All parties, except those in LDF, have their own events and platforms to protest,’’ he said.

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Reacting to the CPI(M) allegation of an “unholy political nexus”, senior Congress legislator and Opposition leader V D Satheesan told The Indian Express, “By making these allegations, the CPI(M) is insulting the people and their agitation. The CPI(M) is now speaking for an elite class. That party only has disdain for ordinary people. The UDF does not require the support of any political party to take forward an agitation. We have always taken up people’s causes,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Nair Service Society, an upper-caste Hindu outfit, and the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) too have expressed their reservations about the K-Rail.

NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair stated that the government should not ignore the concerns of people who will be displaced by the project. “The government should review its development priorities considering the recent natural calamities the state had faced,” he said.

The KCBC, in a statement, said the project has pushed thousands of families into a state of uncertainty. “It is highly deplorable that the government is giving a political angle to the protests and the concerns raised by the people.”

First published on: 01-04-2022 at 10:55:06 am
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