Was Congress or CPM more pally with RSS? Debate rages

Who was the best fighter in college: Sudhakaran and Pinarayi indulge in a war of words
KPCC chief K Sudhakaran and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File photo

Thiruvananthapuram: A day after Opposition Leader V D Satheesan charged him with soliciting RSS votes to win in 1977, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan came to the Assembly on Thursday armed with his version of history. However, since they had staged a boycott, the Opposition UDF was not present in the House to poke holes in Pinarayi's arguments.

Satheesan's basic charge was that the CPM was in alliance with Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP,  during the 1977 Assembly elections that took place right after the Emergency.

Pinarayi said the CPM was then part of the broad anti-Congress alliance forged by the Janata Party led by Jayaprakash Narayan to oppose the Emergency and the reign of terror unleashed by Congress. He said Jan Sangh had also later joined this national alliance after dissolving the party. "All parties like the Socialist Party, Swatantra Party, Praja Socialist Party and Congress (O) dissolved themselves to merge with the Janata Party. Chandrasekhar (who later became Prime Minister) was the president of the party and its symbol was a farmer and plough," the Chief Minister said. "It was a broad alliance of democratic forces that came together to fight the Congress and our tie-up was with the Janata Party and not the Jan Sangh. It was a time when the Congress had emasculated all democratic institutions," he added.

Pinarayi said that the kind of atrocities the Congress had unleashed in other places like West Bengal under Siddharth Shankar Ray was sought to be replicated in areas like Tholambra, Mambaram and Narikode in Kannur.

Even when there was an alliance with the Janata Party, Pinarayi said the CPM had openly opposed the RSS. "It was also the time the CPM was trying to defend itself against the RSS attacks," the Chief Minister said.

He also hinted that he had not received any support from the RSS during the 1977 polls. "Koothuparamba is the land of the Thalassery riot martyr U K Kumaran. That is a place where the RSS had always, then and now, considered the CPM its biggest foe," Pinarayi said. He had then defeated the RSP candidate Abdul Khader by a majority of nearly 4500 votes; both the RSP and CPI were part of the Congress-led front then.

Pinarayi then sought to turn the tables on Congress. He said KPCC president K Sudhakaran, who was then a youth wing leader of the Janata Party, was the election committee office-bearer of Jan Sangh leader K G Marar, the candidate of the anti-Congress alliance fielded in Uduma. Sudhakaran's party Indian National Congress (O) had merged with the Janata Party.

The Janata Party experiment failed and Morarji Desai had to resign when the dual membership of Jan Sangh members became an issue. Pinarayi said the CPM quickly severed even this tenuous link it had with rightwing forces in 1977. In the polls held soon after in 1979, in four Assembly constituencies, Pinarayi said E M S had openly declared that the Left did not want a single RSS vote. "I was there when EMS made the declaration. We won all the four seats (Kasaragod, Thalassery, Tiruvalla, and Parassala)," Pinarayi said.

The very next year, when both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections took place simultaneously, Pinarayi said that known RSS leaders like O Rajagopal and K G Marar were fielded as part of the Congress-led UDF. He said O Rajagopal was the Congress-led Front's candidate from the Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency. K G Marar was the UDF candidate for the Peringalam Assembly constituency. That same year, Pinarayi said K Sudhakaran was a Janata Party candidate in the Congress-led Front and was defeated.

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