CPM and BJP trade charges as political violence shows signs of flaring up in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM and the BJP hurled conspiracy charges against each other simultaneously on Friday.

Just when the re-inducted CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday that the killing of CPM local secretary P B Sandeep Kumar in Thiruvalla on December 2 was the result of a conspiracy hatched by the BJP-RSS gang, far north the Kannur unit of the BJP was putting up a show of defiance in Thalassery.

Hordes of BJP activists broke the curfew imposed by the police and paraded through the Thalassery town in protest against what they termed as a CPM conspiracy to falsely accuse their activists of communally provocative slogans.

The police had registered a case against 25 BJP activists on December 2 for allegedly giving a call to unleash violence against the Muslim community. The slogans were said to be raised during a meeting organised by the BJP on December 1 to mark the 22nd anniversary of the murder of KT Jayakrishnan inside a classroom, in front of students.

The curfew was imposed after the Muslim outfit, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), came out in retaliation against the BJP. Kodiyeri told the media that the BJP-RSS gang was trying to create communal polarisation.

The BJP Kannur unit says its members had not given a call to violence. They say the video that is doing the rounds was edited to make it seem as if they were inciting anti-Muslim violence.

The BJP had also questioned the CPM allegation that the Thiruvalla killing, of CPM leader Sandeep, was the handiwork of the BJP and RSS. The BJP got unexpected support. The police, after a preliminary enquiry, said that prima facie Sandeep's murder looks like a case of personal vendetta. The BJP has now used the police version to claim that a CPM has begun a witch hunt against the BJP.

The new CPM state secretary strongly objected to the police claim. "Such a conclusion can be arrived at only after the investigation. If the police have said so, it needs to be checked why they made such a claim," Kodiyeri told reporters.

There was an irony here. Kodiyeri, the head of the party now leading the LDF government, was insisting that Sandeep's murder was part of an RSS-BJP conspiracy before the investigation was complete. Significantly, neither the Chief Ministers nor any of the ministers have not pointed fingers at the BJP while condemning the murder of Sandeep.

Nonetheless, Kodiyeri reeled out statistics to prove that the BJP-RSS combine was out to annihilate the CPM. "Since the first Pinarayi Vijayan came to power in 2016, 20 CPM workers were killed; 15 of them died at the hands of BJP-RSS goons," Kodiyeri said. He said that in all 215 CPM workers were killed by the RSS.

The CPM state secretary also took the moral high ground. He said that Sandeep's murder would not lead to a CPM retaliatory strike. "An eye for an eye is not our slogan," he said. The CPM leader said that mass support would be mobilised to suppress and isolate such killer gangs.

Five years ago, right after the LDF came to power, Kodiyeri had spoken a different language. His controversial "work in the field and wages at the fence" was then interpreted as an exhortation to cadres to carry out swift retaliatory attacks against political opponents.

His aggressive stand had changed after the murder of Youth Congress leader Shuhaib in 2018. With the Assembly elections nearing, it became imperative for the CPM to temper its violent image. Kodiyeri, as the CPM state secretary, had condemned the attack and denied the CPM role in the killing. He even said that if any CPM leaders were found involved, the party would distance itself from such members. Then, too, Kodiyeri had spoken about mobilising mass support to counter the murderous politics of the BJP-RSS combine.

In connection with the new developments related to the Periya twin murders, Kodiyeri said that the CBI was merely bowing to the diktats of what he called "certain centres". Though he refused to accept that local issues were behind the death of the CPM leader in Thiruvalla, Kodiyeri said that the Periya murders were the result of local troubles. He was clearly suggesting that the deaths were not political murders.

"Now the CBI is trying to implicate CPM leaders at the behest of certain centres. The charge sheets drawn up against them show that they are being purposefully implicated in the case," Kodiyeri said. CPM's former Uduma MLA and CPM's Kasaragod district secretariat member K V Kunhiraman, along with five other CPM local leaders, have been included as accused by the CBI. Now, the total number of accused in the Periya case has risen to 24. Kunhiraman is the 20th accused.

"Just because a chargesheet has been filed does not mean that you have committed anything wrong," Kodiyeri said. "I myself have been charge-sheeted by the police for murdering a person I had not even met," he said.

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