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Kerala CM calls for all-party meeting as violence escalates between CPM and BJP-RSS

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-07-2017 Nidheesh M.K.

Bengaluru: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday met his own party head in the state, Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, and the leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to find a way to end the recent spate of violent incidents.

It was decided to hold an all-party meeting on 6 August to discuss initiatives to bring peace. In the meanwhile, peace talks will be held in three districts that were particularly violent in the last few weeks-- Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur and Kottayam-- starting Tuesday.

Kerala has seen several attacks and counter-attacks between CPM and RSS workers for a while. The violence took a new turn last week, with stone pelting on the house of Balakrishnan’s son and the state BJP headquarters. It escalated further with the murder of a 34-year-old RSS worker, Rajesh, in Thiruvananthapuram on 29 July.

BJP claimed CPM workers were behind the murder and held a hartal (strike) in protest on Sunday. The police have so far arrested seven people in connection with the murder, but their relationship with the CPM party remains inconclusive. CPM has denied the charge and held that the murder was the result of personal rivalry between the victim and the prime accused Manikandan, a person with a known criminal record. However, the first information report filed on Monday blames regional political rivalry for the murder.

The incident has vitiated the political climate in the state. Kerala governor P. Sathasivam and Union home minister Rajnath Singh called chief minister Vijayan on Sunday. Later, the Governor met Vijayan and state police chief Loknath Behra separately to enquire about the state’s law and order. The governor later posted on Twitter that he had “summoned” Vijayan and the DGP, which has not gone down well with the communists. Kanam Rajendran, state secretary of CPM ally Communist Party of India or CPI, later told reporters that the governor has no power to summon the CM.

After the meeting with CPM and BJP-RSS leaders on Monday, Vijayan told reporters that the leaders have agreed to be more vigilant and ask workers to keep away from attacks. Similar statements were made by BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan, former Union minister and MLA O. Rajagopal and RSS leader P. Gopalankutty, who attended the meeting.

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