The Welfare Party of India, which has found itself to be the CPM's favourite punching bag, has decided to fight back.
At a press conference called in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, the WPI state president Hameed Vaniyambalam took on both the CPM, for what he termed the CPM strategy to use the WPI as a cover to create communal polarisation, and the Congress, for not showing the political gumption to own up the UDF-WPI “arrangement”.
He said the WPI had indeed talked to KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran before firming up the UDF-WPI tie up. Mullapally had vehemently denied any such understanding with the WPI, causing serious strategic confusion within the UDF ranks.
“No such political understanding with the UDF could be struck without the knowledge of the KPCC president,” Vaniyambalam said. “Mullappally cannot heap the blame for his leadership failures on the WPI,” he added. There was tactical understanding with the UDF in over 100 local body constituencies, the WPI leader said. “In 35 of them, the UDF was able to wrest the seats from the LDF,” he said.
Vaniyambalam was especially critical of the CPM for what he termed its “demonisation of the WPI”. “If they are calling us an extremist outfit, the CPM should produce proof to back their claim. Let them produce one instance where the WPI was found involved in any communal riot or even a minor clash,” he said.
“But we have proof when we say that by demonising the UDF-WPI understanding, the CPM was attempting to fan Islamophobia and cause deep religious polarisation in Kerala,” Vaniyambalam said.
The WPI leader also wanted to know whether the WPI had turned communal after the 2015 local body polls. “The WPI had a tactical understanding with the LDF in over 50 local body seats in Kerala in 2015. Were we not communal then? Later, even while publicly branding us communal, the LDF did not think it fit to sever ties with us in local bodies it were in power with our support during the last five years,” Vaniyambalam said.
He also challenged the CPM to an open debate on the policies and principles of the WPI.
Vaniyambalam cited two reasons for the CPM's sudden decision to brand the WPI an extremist outfit. One, the CPM was provoked when the WPI took a political decision to throw its weight behind the Congress-led UDF in Kerala and the UPA at the national level thinking the Congress was better positioned to keep the BJP out of power.
Two, communal polarisation was part of the CPM agenda. “Since the BJP is not strong, the CPM knows such a polarisation would be to its benefit,” Vaniyambalam said. “But if at all the strategy works, it would only be for the short term. Because in the long run, such a misguided policy will only be to the BJP's advantage,” the WPI state president said.
Vaniyambalam further said the WPI was not part of any political formations in Kerala. “Nor have we given any application to any of these formations to include us in their front,” the WPI leader said.