The killing spree of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala, to which a hitherto perceptibly north Indian Bharatiya Janata Party has woken up — and how — is an obvious case of collapse of the rule of law in the State. To equate the political murders of RSS swayamsevaks and BJP workers in large numbers with their sporadic retaliations is facile on the one hand, and the comparison in no way condones the State government of its folly of lax as well as biased policing on the other. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is right in saying that this trail of blood relates to the map of communist rule in the country. One could add it’s a worldwide phenomenon, beginning with the Bolshevik Revolution, Joseph Stalin’s gulags, Mao Tse Tung’s Great Leap Forward, etc. In India, for about two of the more than three decades of CPI(M)-led Left Front rule in West Bengal, they butchered landlords and Congress workers at will, a gory practice that diminished only with the age of Jyoti Basu and the transfer of power to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee — only to resurface during the Nandigram episode. The fight in Kerala has been mostly just political and rarely violent until a set pattern of Christians and Muslims voting for the Congress-led United Democratic Front and Hindus choosing the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front continued its see-saw match. With the rise of the BJP the Hindu vote can no longer be taken for granted by the communists. In fact, the BJP had been hesitant to enter the State for this precise reason that it did not want to let the UDF take undue advantage of the BJP-CPM fight over Hindu votes. What makes it all the more worrisome for the communists is the fact that the State head of the BJP cosies up to a church as well, pulling along a chunk of Christians. And now leader after leader of the BJP is making waves in the State with the Janaraksha Yatra (march to protect the people) that is witnessing massive participation in the districts it is traversing. No wonder, a panicked chief minister tells his party cadre that they must create a hartal-like atmosphere in his hometown, which would include a black out of cable television to lessen the impact of the BJP’s march. Not stopping at that, Vijayan then calls for opposition unity to fight the BJP and RSS.
Of immense concern in Kerala is the issue of demography, for which the communists have done precious little, thanks to their proclivity of looking at India with the blinkers of ‘class conflict’ and fake secularism on. The social menace called love jihad can well unite the Hindus, more so out of frustration since the Supreme Court has asked a politically correct question on it, dismissing the allegation of cheating by Muslim men to marry Hindu women as a decision of “love” between two independent individuals. The concern is now spread nationwide, more so in two of the three States where the CPI(M) has or had a formidable presence. Make no mistake, Mamata Banerjee need not use the term “communist” in the name of her party to be one — either on the basis of economic policy or for her blind spot on the atrocities on Hindus, which she shares with Vijayan. The Kerala chief minister is on a sticky wicket also because he is not a resolute ideologue like his communist predecessor VS Achuthanandan. Kerala just needs its own Biman Bose to pull the rug from beneath the chief minister’s feet, reminiscent of the experience of Bhattacharjee, 2006-11.
A factor that makes today’s BJP different from the one till the era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the zeal with which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah cashes in on the feeling of utter insecurity that more and more Hindus feel. The tribes and other natives of Assam began the trend. Mayawati dumping Dalits for Muslims in Uttar Pradesh saw the Bahujan Samaj Party fall flat on its face. Whether the pattern continues in Kerala and Bengal would depend on what Modi does beyond the electoral rhetoric of a “pink revolution” in Assam and shmashan-vanaam-qabristan (cremation ground versus graveyard) in Uttar Pradesh. And, of course, a factor is getting the regional nuance right. If the BJP is left confused in Bengal because Bengalis keep religion and politics strictly separate — one at home, the other for the streets — Kerala is a labyrinth of identity politics, with Muslims, Christians, Ezhavas and Nairs forming influential blocs in voting. While the Indian Union Muslim League decides the Muslim votes and the Church almost does the same for Christians, there is no uniform choice for Hindus across castes. Further, Christians and Muslims are also not averse to the LDF. This makes the contest tough for the BJP. A political analysis, however, misses the larger issue of value of the human life, which is threatened not only by death but also by obliteration of one’s identity.