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Amit Shah brings political murders to the fore in Kerala rally

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-10-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Tuesday flagged off a march from Kerala’s Kannur in preparation for the 2019 general election, hoping to leverage the district’s notoriety as a hotbed of political revenge killings.

The two-week long Jana Raksha Yatra (people’s protection march) led by BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan pass through the districts before ending at Thiruvananthapuram on 17 October. It is expected to be joined by several BJP leaders including Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Kannur, home to Kerala’s Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has witnessed numerous murders of CPM and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). Each side blames the murders on the other.

Shah, who kicked off the march after visiting the Rajarajeswari temple in Kannur, said chief minister Vijayan was solely responsible for the killings of his party men, news agency Press Trust of India reported.

14 people, he claimed, were killed in Kannur after the communists came to power in May 2016, even though provisional police estimates put the figures at five BJP workers and three CPM workers.

Shah also announced the party will campaign for the next two weeks in all Indian states against the killings, the Press Trust of India report said.

The march is part of Shah’s bid to grow the party in a state which has never sent a BJP leader to the Lok Sabha, despite a series of wins across the country beginning with the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In last year’s Kerala assembly election, it secured 14% vote share, the highest it has secured so far, as well as an assembly seat, its first in the state.

The march will pass through Pinarayi Vijayan’s home town in Kannur. Given the charged atmosphere, the police have tightened security in the area, regional news channels reported on Tuesday.

Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), BJP’s ideological parent, said on Sunday that the rally will highlight terrorist and anti-national forces allegedly at work in Kerala with the blessings of its government. Vijayan took strong objection to the speech and in a Facebook post said Kerala did not need to take lessons in patriotism from RSS.

On Monday, while chalking out the details of the rally to reporters in Delhi, Union human resource minister Prakash Javadekar said, “CPM has become Communist Party of Maoists”, drawing parallels between the alleged use of violence by the Communists and Maoist insurgents.

However, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Tuesday said the party does not take the rally seriously; the BJP leaders are welcome to enjoy the beauty of this clean state, he said.

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