His tightly clenched fist raised amid chants of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah set off on a 15-day foot march on Tuesday to protest the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s alleged violence against workers of his party, which is trying to emerge as the main challenger to the Left in Kerala.
On the first day of his three-day stay, Shah launched ‘Jan Raksha Yatra’ (people’s protection march) from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s home town in Kannur district.
He was later joined by a large numbers of supporters as he walked over nine kilometres, blaming the ruling CPI-M for “political murders” of BJP and RSS workers.
“More than 84 BJP and RSS workers have been killed in the district alone. I want to ask Pinarayi Vijayan...Who has killed them? If he does not have answers, then I am saying that the chief minister is responsible for the killings,” he said.
The BJP chief met the family members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-BJP workers killed in the political violence in the state and also inaugurated an exhibition organised in their memory.
He also announced a ‘padyatra’ over the issue in other state capitals from Wednesday.
Seeking to corner the ruling alliance and boost the BJP’s standing among the masses, the party has asked its senior leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth and several Union ministers, to join the exercise. Adityanath is expected to be in the state on Wednesday.
“Communists have destroyed a peaceful Kerala, more than 120 BJP and RSS karyakartas have been murdered in Kerala so far,” Shah alleged.
“I want to tell CM Pinarayi Vijayan that the more they try to muddy the political environment, more the lotus will bloom in Kerala,” the BJP president said.
The yatra is the beginning of the end of the CPI-M’s politics of violence, he said and appealed to the people to remove the Left party from power and bring in a BJP government for peace and prosperity.
Political violence and Left governments go together, he alleged, adding that wherever the Left rules, the state sees political violence.
Kerala is the land of great saints and social reformers such as Adi Shankara, Sreenarayana Guru and Chattambi Swamikal, but it has been turned into a state of bloodshed with the rise of the Left, Shah alleged.
He also accused human rights activists of maintaining silence over the violence against the BJP and RSS workers and asked them to ignore this perception that “red violence is not violence”.
The silence of the activists over the killing of more than 120 BJP workers working on a “nationalist agenda” is a question mark on their allegiance, he said.
This ‘Jan Raksha’ yatra is a ‘satyagraha’ against the atrocities and the killings by the CPI-M, he said.
The Jan Raksha Yatra, held under the theme of ‘All have to live! against Jihadi-Red Terror’, from Payyannur will travel through the state before ending in Thiruvananthapuram on October 17.
As many as 120 BJP workers have been killed in the state since 2001 with 14 of them in the chief minister’s home town since he took over the reigns last year, the BJP has alleged.
The CPI-M has, in turn, accused the BJP and the RSS of resorting to violence and denied the involvement of its government and leadership in the political killings.
The BJP is working overtime to become a potent force in the state by 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It had garnered 10 per cent and 15 per cent votes respectively in 2014 Lok Sabha and 2016 assembly polls.
With the Congress, the main opposition party in the state, and the Left, maintaining a coordination against the BJP in politics at the national lever, the saffron party believes that it can occupy the opposition space in Kerala and build on its gains to become a major force by the next Lok Sabha polls.