The BJP-RSS leadership in Kerala is infuriated after the LDF government decided to ban arms-training drills in government-controlled temples in the state. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the purpose behind the move was to make temples the venue for the activities of the CPI(M). “Better backtrack from taking on the RSS. Even Indira Gandhi was unsuccessful in it,” Kummanam warned.
The friction between the BJP and the CPI(M) is nothing new, but it has gained momentum after the Left Democratic Front came to power in the state some 100 days ago. The Congress-led United Democratic Front is weak, and the verbal duels between the leaders of the BJP and the CPI(M) are taking reams of newsprint.
The political bellicosity between the CPI(M) and the BJP had assumed a violent form in the last two decades, with mostly low-level party workers being targeted to settle scores.
In May this year, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had warned the LDF government, immediately after it took charge, to stop attacks on the BJP workers in the state. “We expect the CPI(M) to behave properly and democratically after receiving the people’s mandate,” he said.
But the CPI(M), it seems, has laughed it off. A few days ago, some CPI(M) workers threw crude bombs at the BJP headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram, which prompted Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to call Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and seek a report on the matter.
Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the target of the bomb attack was perhaps the state BJP president.
Said Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to THE WEEK, “The CPI(M) is ideologically bankrupt. It is propagating violence as it has nothing else to show. With the recent incidents in Kerala, the CPI(M) has lost it big time. It has no future.”
The Kerala government’s decision to ban RSS shakhas in temples will make matters worse for both the Left and the Right. Said state Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Facebook, “The RSS is trying to push believers away from temples, making them a storage of weapons.”
The minister is talking rubbish, said Gopalankutty Master, state secretary of the RSS, to THE WEEK. “We are not conducting any training in temples. We will fight the move of the LDF government legally and, if need arises, in other ways. Temples in Kerala are the way they are because of the good work done by the RSS. Communist leaders cannot challenge the might of the RSS. They should keep a safe distance from us. But, having said that, we will not unnecessarily provoke them,” he said.
The BJP has also accused the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala of appeasing the minorities while isolating Hindus in the state. Most of its decisions, the BJP alleges, have been anti-Hindu.
Said O. Rajagopal, senior BJP leader, to THE WEEK: “The policies of the LDF government are anti-Hindu. In Kannur, recently, the CPI(M) organised mass celebrations on Lord Krishna’s birthday. Even a child knows that a communist doesn't believe in God. This shows that the communists are clueless about their political stand. There have been so many instances of the LDF government hurting the sentiments of Hindus in the state.”
Rajagopal said that the LDF government had committed a big blunder by trying to curb the RSS in the state. “People in the state have never lodged a protest against the RSS,” he said.
A tussle with the Centre is the last thing that the Kerala government would want now. Said S. Ramachandran Pillai, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, to THE WEEK: “The government of Kerala is doing all it can to contain violence on the part of the CPI(M) workers. I hope the RSS and the BJP will also do the same. We don’t want to aggravate the tension in Kerala. We don’t want a conflict with the Centre.”