By Sushil Kutty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the two so-called non-dynasts, want to saffron India from crook to cranny. And the one cranny left is the sliver of God’s Own Country called Kerala, on Modi’s tongue ‘Keral’. In the flush of the Tripura victory, Modi and Shah believe Kerala has laid down arms and soon another state will speak the language of the Hindi BhaJaaPaa.
Is it that easy, will Kerala succumb, fall like a house of cards, when the BJP does not even hold the winning hand in Kerala?
The CPM is the granddaddy of all left parties, and there are many of them, with the CPI second to none. Lesser mortals than Pinaryi Vijayan and D Raja would have committed hara-kiri after Tripura though hara-kiri is ‘Japanese’ and unthinkable in the era of Xi Jinping, Master of the Commie Universe.
The Left is in a hole and there is that sinking feeling… Only Kerala remains a pocket of air the left can breathe life into and draw life from. Shah said Saturday northeast was not the BJP’s ‘Aakhiri Padav” – that distinction goes to the backwaters and coconut groves of Kerala. Modi more or less declared ‘Agli Baar BJP-Kerala Sarkar’.
It rhymed with ‘Manik Sarkar’, the CPM’s tried-and-tired fallen Tripura chief minister. People of Tripura had enough of Manik Sarkar’s personal integrity. It was of no help to common Tripurians’ development aspirations. Manik’s boiled egg was no match to Modi’s promise of an omelette spread – roads, bridges, schools, colleges, hospitals. The only major road that runs through the state was/is National Highway 8 and agriculture continues to be the mainstay, rice as opposed to rise!
Illegal immigration from Bangladesh into Tripura also refused to go away and was mainly thought to have the blessings of the Manik Sarkar, ‘sarkar’ as in ‘government’. Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s recent comments about AIDUF-BJP and how China and Pakistan were hand in glove must have enveloped poll-bound Tripura more than they did polled-out Assam.
So, can the BJP supplant a Tripura strategy in Kerala? There are many things common to both states, from rubber to literacy, but the answer is a ‘No’. Ground realities in Kerala do not favour a BJP-takeover. That Modi and Shah can even dream so is a tribute to their heights of imagination.
- For one, there is no Bangladesh on the Kerala border – only saltwater and fishing boats. And no Bangladesh spells no illegal immigration. No ‘left-cultivated’ and ‘left-harvested’ illegal ‘ghuspaityas’ for the BJP to make a hue and cry about.
- Bengali and ‘Bihari’ migrant labour influx there is, but that will become a ‘problem’ in maybe two decades. By then skyscrapers will jut out to sea with no more space to build more. Right now the warnings are limited to the occasional ‘Mallu movie screenplay’ and the Bengal/Bihari takeover of the ‘tattu-dosa street-fare’.
- Then, there are only two ‘tribal assembly seats’ in Kerala to the 20 in Tripura for the BJP to stoke tribal resentment and exploit it for electoral gains. All the 20 tribal seats in Tripura went to the BJP this time. Tripura’s tribal population resented being left out. Tripura tribal outfits did not like the brand ‘terrorist’. No such tribal sentiment afflicts Kerala. The tribal counts for nothing in Kerala. If there are indigenous people, they are hidden. Tripura had the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura.
- There is no ‘left divide and rule policy’ to attack in Kerala. No Bengali-Tripuri split. Division along language lines does not exist in Kerala for the BJP to speak about in forked tongues. Muslim, Hindu and Christian, all speak and think in mother-tongue Malayalam or the other tongue, English. Hindi is limited to a question in the head – ‘Kayi Ko?’
- Caste divisions exist, class divisions as well, but they have been exploited and furthered to such an extent that there is no more room left. That leaves the BJP/RSS only the consolidation of the Hindu vote, which is riven by caste, ideology, tantra-mantra and all that mumbo-jumbo.
- Engineering defections, as is the BJP-tactic to win elections, of leaders and workers from the Left and the Congress, can be only miniscule. Such defections are dealt with death in the killing fields of Kerala. Recent political assassinations/assassination threats underline the fatal danger inherent in change of party. What good defection when you have to live/survive to serve the party you have defected to, vote for?
- RSS ideologue Ram Madhav spoke of the ‘intimidation and the kind of violence existing in Tripura during campaigning’. What makes him think Kerala will be different in a do-or-die battle? Mohan Bhagwat’s ready-to-fight-Pakistan at three days’ notice RSS ‘bhakts’ wouldn’t stand a chance in a pitched battle in Kerala. They aren’t good at even ‘Love Jihad’, forget the real jihad.
- The BJP will talk of Ghouri and Ghaznavi, Panipat and Buxar. BJP uses religion to mass armies of followers. But there is a difference. There can be only be so many fundamentalist Hindus, no more. On the numbers front, Hindus, Muslims and Christians are more or less evenly matched. If push comes to shove, the Muslim and the Christian Malayalee can gather in the shade of a ‘secular’ Malayalee umbrella.
All in all, the Kerala situation does not mirror Tripura. Nothing ‘Kerala’ jells with the ‘BJP’ core. From food habits to Hindu religious thinking, practices. Kerala-Hinduism somehow does not fit the Vishwa Hindu Parishad construct. The #[email protected] forced campaign with gender-rights is a BJP red herring to homogenize Hinduism, replace a way of life with a regime of intolerance. BJP’s Muzaffarnagar and Kasganj-style inroads are blood on the highway wherever BJP went like Ahmed Shah Abdali in medieval times.
If the BJP hopes to make a meal of Kerala that is not going to happen because beef fry is also on the Malayalee’s banana leaf-plate along with aviyal and chicken-65. BJP might get a marginal rise in vote share if Modi and Shah peel their Hindutva veneer off but nothing like to make an excited midnight call to Pitaji and Mataji in Nai Dilli.
In short, Modi and Shah’s Karnataka dream might come true but their Kerala wish will remain on the list. Modi & Shah should worry about Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, even Karnataka. Talk that BJP is finally bowing to sub-nationalism is so much Hawa-Hawai that it gives the blushes to Mr India! Hopefully, we will continue to be called ‘Indian’ not ‘Saffron’. At the moment all that separates the Indian from being called Saffron is Kerala. (IPA Service)