The Congress had been ambivalent in its response every time the RSS and its affiliates raised the issue of violence against their workers in Kerala by the communists in the State, both when the Left was out of power and now when it rules. In fact, whenever the RSS-BJP spoke about it in the public domain, Congress representatives sought to deflect the issue by pointing fingers against the victimised. Now that a Congress leader has been brutally hacked to death in Kannur, the party appears to have woken up to the politics of violence by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The Left initially responded to the issue in much the same as it had done when the Right members were targeted. Its leaders at first outright denied any involvement of its workers. But when even an initial probe pointed to the contrary, they brushed aside the allegation on the premise that the accused had acted on their own and that the party had nothing to do with the incident. There is a third similarity: Like in the cases of the killing of RSS-BJP workers, the police machinery was lax in responding to the situation — it took six days to make the first arrest. But it’s not just the police that has been wanting on each occasion — prompting the victims or their families to approach the courts for justice. The ruling Left leaders too have been under the lens. For instance, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also holds the Home portfolio, has had to battle the allegation that his ministry’s soft corner for perpetrators of politically-targeted crimes has encouraged violence in the State.
At a rally in Kannur district in October last, BJP chief Amit Shah had claimed that 120 BJP-RSS workers had been “murdered” so far in Kerala. The figures can be contested by his rivals, but there is no denying the cult of political violence that has seized the communists, especially of the Marxist kind. With this kind of atmosphere prevailing in a State it rules, the CPI (M)’s rant against violence in the BJP-ruled States enjoys no credibility. It can cry itself hoarse over a Pehlu Khan or a Junaid, but its own backyard is smeared with blood which its own have spilt. The people of Kerala are now disgusted with the Left’s violence, which is why the BJP has been steadily gaining acceptance at the grassroots there. The coming months should surely see this trend manifesting itself in more visible and emphatic ways — including electorally.