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'People of Kerala can't be HOODWINKED'

By ARCHANA MASIH
March 25, 2021 13:54 IST
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'Whatever the BJP tries to do, they will not be able to make a big mark in Kerala.'

IMAGE: A child wears a mask with a CPI-M election symbol at a Pinarayi Vijayan rally in Kerala, March 18, 2021. Photograph: Kind courtesy CPI(M) Kerala/Twitter

"By saying that only if he gets 2/3 majority can the Congress form a government because the BJP will buy out MLAs, Rahul Gandhi is betraying his helplessness," M A Baby, Kerala's former education minister and a member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

 

What will be the impact of the BJP in Kerala this time?

The BJP is making tall and ridiculous claims. They are telling people don't give us a majority, but give us some numbers. They have openly said that they can form the government even if they get 30-35 seats.

On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi said in Tamil Nadu that the only way the Congress can win is by getting a 2/3 majority because the BJP buys people, so people should give them a 2/3 majority if they want them to form the government.

This is a peculiar situation developing in Indian politics.

In Kerala, such mechanism of the BJP will not work. The BJP was able to open an account by winning a seat in Trivandrum because the Congress vote was transferred to the BJP.

This time we are telling the people that a similar understanding between the Congress and BJP could be there and they should be vigilant. We are trying to ensure that they do not win even one seat this time.

Won't the BJP make a mark in the next election in Kerala if not in this one?

Kerala has a high percentage of different religions and denominations living together. We have a tradition of various religious groups living in peace and harmony.

The first Muslim mosque in India came up in Kerala and Christianity reached here before Europe.

We have a tradition of various religious groups living in peace and harmony. People in Kerala do not want a party created by the RSS to grow in Kerala. This is an unconscious contract between the secular-minded people of Kerala.

Whatever the BJP tries to do, they will not be able to make a big mark. They will have some marginal role because as the ruling party at the Centre they will be able to attract some sections of the people, but that will not be more than 14%-15% which won't be enough to win assembly or Parliament seats.

IMAGE: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi interacts with a 93-year-old grandmother in Kerala. Photograph: PTI Photo

The RSS is said to have the largest number of its shakhas in Kerala, yet why has the BJP been unable to make an electoral dent in the state?

Kerala has a secular tradition. In 1957, Trivandrum city built a martyr's column on the 100th anniversary of the Revolt of 1857. Outside the column there is a Ganapati temple. Next to the temple we have a mosque and on the other side a church. Adjacent to the memorial lies a stadium where sports and cultural activities take place.

At the centre of all this is the martyrs' column symbolising the sacrifice of the freedom struggle.

The spirit and tradition of Kerala can be summed up by this, therefore the RSS cannot make any headway here.

Do you think BJP can poach Marxist leaders in Kerala like they have done with Shankar Ghosh in West Bengal?

In Kerala, we have party organisation meetings regularly. Our cadres are properly initiated, they have to work for the party. They are given full organisational, ideological and political training -- this is done wherever the CPM is in the country, but in Bengal because of the continuous attack from the TMC and BJP some people lose their confidence.

When the CPM Rajya Sabha member from Tripura (Jharna Das) went to meet Amit Shah with a memorandum about deteriorating law and order in the state, he offered her to join the BJP.

She refused saying she had come to meet the home minister of the country and not the BJP president, hence the CPM has the courage and conviction to stand up to the BJP whether in Kerala, Bengal or Tripura.

IMAGE: E Sreedharan being greeted by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Anilchandra Shah after he joined the BJP in Thiruvananthapuram. Photograph: ANI Photo

What difference will Mr E Sreedharan make to the BJP's prospects?

Mr E Sreedharan has been a personal friend of mine since his Konkan Railway days. As a technocrat I give him A+ and as a political being I give him C-.

Many feel Rahul Gandhi's presence will boost the Congress' chances even though the party appears divided in Kerala?

By saying that only if he gets 2/3 majority can they form a government because the BJP will buy MLAs, Rahul Gandhi is betraying his helplessness.

His conduct as the leader of a political party has been wanting. In the Bihar election, there was a possibility of the defeat of the BJP, but he addressed very few public meetings.

He doesn't take politics seriously, everyone knows that. People of Kerala are politically conscious and cannot be hoodwinked.

Your state committee member A Vijayaraghavan has warned of the dangers of minority communalism as much as majority communalism. What do you think he is alluding to?

There was some misrepresentation of his statement. He said majority communalism is a danger because it can transform into fascism, we Marxists know that very well. That doesn't mean minority communalism is less dangerous. Any communalism is bad. It is undemocratic and makes human beings into beasts.

Minority communalism provides the justification for majority communalism. A theocratic State is in the agenda of both the RSS and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

He did not say minority communalism is a bigger danger than majority communalism.

IMAGE: CPI-M politburo member M A Baby speaks at a Left Democratic Front election convention. Photograph: Kind courtesy M A Baby

Will the presence of Islamic radicalism in Kerala benefit the BJP?

The BJP is trying to exploit the diversity in the country. They want to identify 'The Others'.

M S (the RSS's second saranghchalak Madhav Sadashiv) Golwalkar has said that Hitler has given the model of how to treat minorities and others. He says the three dangers in India are the Communists, Muslims and Christians.

For electoral benefit, the BJP is trying to get the support of some Christian groups in Kerala for opportunism. At the same time, they don't mind building alliances with various minority groups as they did in J&K with the PDP and in the north east, but people should be careful because the BJP's final goal is to suppress minorities and establish a Hindu rashtra.

How is this election different from previous elections in Kerala?

It is important because our country is at the crossroads -- politically and economically.

Politically there are certain dangerous policies of the Modi government like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The Constitution does not make religion a criteria for identifying citizenship. Under Modi, various Constitutional institutions are compelled to keep quiet.

The farmer agitation is continuing over 100 days, 200 people have died, 5-7 farmers have committed suicides. This symbolises the frustration of the Indian people.

The alternative to RSS raj is a broad Left, progressive, democratic, secular front. We feel the LDF in Kerala could be one of the models that the Indian people can think about as an alternative to RSS Raj.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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