Amit Shah flags off the Janaraksha Yatra protesting "red-jihadi" terror
BJP chief Amit Shah has flagged off the Janaraksha Yatra to be led by the party's state president Kummanam Rajashekhharan at Payyannur. While flagging the 15-day padyatra that will span 154 km and cover 11 districts, Shah accused Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan of having "blood of 84 BJP/RSS workers" on his "clothes," referring to violent clashes in Kerala's Kannur between BJP/RSS and CPI(M) cadres.
The beginning of violence in Kannur
In the 1930s, Kannur witnessed many peasant-landlord clashes. This allowed the communists to expand their base there. In the 1940s, RSS entered the region and received support from local businessmen but were opposed by Muslims. Communists sided with Muslims making way for clashes.
Violence in Kannur intensifies after 1970s
In the 1970s, violence increased after RSS pursued CPI(M) cadres. This flow gained momentum after CPI(M) supported the Emergency. CPI(M) cadres joined RSS in high numbers attracted by RSS' underground activities against the Emergency, leading to CPI(M) killing dissidents. Further, Kannur mainly comprises the Thiya community, Hindu backward caste, which RSS and CPI(M) are trying to woo. This has intensified the violence.
What is the current situation in the state?
Kannur has become a center of political violence. India Today reports that incidents have increased by 30% in the last three years. Further, about 600 CPI(M) workers and 300 RSS/BJP workers have been arrested in political violence cases. About 84 BJP/RSS workers have been killed in Kannur since 2001 and 14 had allegedly died after the Pinarayi-led Left Democratic Front government came to power.
Is CPI(M) feeling the heat from the BJP?
Presently, the 140-member Kerala Assembly has only one BJP MLA and BJP won no Kerala seat in 2014 LS elections. Though BJP is way behind, CPI(M), which has lost its strongholds and has been reduced to a minority of 19 MPs in LS, may want to hold on to Kerala. As BJP aims to increase the Kerala tally, CPI(M) may be facing the heat.
How has BJP designed its Kerala strategy?
In 2016, BJP attempted to entice minorities, i.e. 46% of the state's population, by taking a moderate Hindutva stand. However, it didn't yield results, so BJP may have adopted the hard Hindutva stance. The party is wooing Christians and has inducted Alphons Kannanthanam as tourism minister in Modi cabinet with this aim. The Janaraksha Yatra is also part of this strategy.
How will the Janaraksha Yatra progress?
The Janaraksha Yatra will end on October 16 in Thiruvarananthapuram. Shah joined the yatra and addressed the crowd at Pilathara. Shah will join the yatra again on Thursday. Other BJP leaders like Smriti Irani, Mahesh Sharma, Manoj Sinha, Babul Supriyo and Yogi Adityanath will join the yatra at different points in time. Through this yatra, BJP plans to mobilize people against CPI(M)'s Marxist-jihadi terror.
Will BJP's strategy work in Kerala?
BJP aims to win 12 seats from Kerala in 2019 LS elections. This could be difficult as BJP has won no seat since it entered Kerala in the 1980s. BJP also has the Ezhava community's support, which is 50% of the state's Hindu population. However, it remains to be seen whether BJP's strategy works in a state where "being Left" is second nature.