New Delhi, Oct 15: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the people of the state aptly responded to the BJP’s polarising attempts in the state by relegating it to the fourth spot in the Vengara by-election result declared on Sunday.
He said the BJP and RSS were were trying to create communal tension and divide in the state with their “malicious” campaign and “dangerous statements” but the Sunday result of the by-election showed where the BJP stood in Kerala.
“Despite all these dirty tricks and attempts for communal polarisation, the BJP has been relegated to the fourth position with much reduced vote share. This is a pointer and stern warning to the BJP that they cannot mess up with Kerala.”
K.N.A. Khader of the Indian Union Muslim league (IUML) won the by-poll defeating his rival P.P. Basheer of the CPI-M with a margin of 23,310 votes. BJP candidate K.J. Janachandran, at the fourth spot, got only 5,728 votes.
Addressing a seminar by the Delhi Union of Journalists, Vijayan said calls from some quarters to dismiss the Kerala government invoking Article 356 would gain momentum in coming days because the ruling BJP at the Centre was “in search for an opposition-free India”.
“But the progressive, secular and liberal people of Kerala, and the country as a whole, will trounce such malicious efforts.”
He said Kerala was being targeted by the BJP and RSS because the state “champions the values that strengthen secularism, democracy and socialism”.
A month-long campaign was carried out across India that Hindus were threatened in the state, featuring the hashtag “Kerala killing fields” which was followed by the BJP’s Janaraksha Yatra, he said.
“National leaders, including Chief Ministers of other states, resorted to a malicious campaign against the state. Leaders from states in which children and farmers were killed came in quick succession as if they are to rescue the people of Kerala,” the Chief Minister said, referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath.
“Irresponsible and dangerous statements were made by BJP leaders depicting Kerala as the hotbed of Islamic terrorism… to disrupt the centuries-old communal harmony of the state.
“The people of Kerala have seen through this malicious campaign and have come out unitedly to oppose the RSS game plan.”
He said the state was being targeted because Keralites had always stood up against the nefarious designs of the BJP and RSS — “be it communalism, demonetisation, neo liberalism or crony capitalism”.
“It is quite natural that those who at the helm of affairs get perturbed.”
The Chief Minister recalled how Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an outlandish comparison of Kerala with Somalia during the 2016 election campaign. Modi had said that the “infant mortality rate among the scheduled tribe community in Kerala is worse than Somalia”.
“Keralites across political divide and from around the world came together at that single stroke and ridiculed him… showed that it was in fact the state from which he (Modi) hailed (that) was a closer comparison to Somalia when it came to infant mortality rate.”
Referring to the debate on growing intolerance, the Chief Minister said: “We live in times when there is a price to be paid for saying the truth. Voices of opposition or dissent are being threatened with dire consequences. We know how sedition charges were cooked up against our students.
“Cultural activists have also been threatened. The likes of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi, have even been murdered. In the recent past, even journalists have had to pay the price, like Gauri Lankesh and Shantanu Bhowmik did.”
Calling Prime Minister Modi’s demonetisation decision as “a foolishness beyond imagination”, Vijayan said the move “ended up as a disaster”.
“Demonetisation brought the whole economy to a grinding halt. It took away the lives of more than 100 Indians as well. It miserably failed in curbing black money.”
He said that even as the people of Kerala resisted the anti-people policies of the central government, came a veiled attack on Kerala’s cooperatives which were called “the reserves of black money”.
“Then came the… ban on beef. Yet again, Kerala was in the forefront of protests against it.”
He said that despite the campaign launched against Kerala, the facts about the state remain irrefutable as it “continues to lead the country in literacy and has furthered its enviable position in leading the Indian states on various counts”.