A farce called peace meetings: What CPM, BJP now to do

Report by: 
P. Sreekumaran
Thiruvananthapuram
13 Aug 2017

Yet another peace meeting has come and gone. But peace has eluded violence-torn Thiruvananthapuram district, which has witnessed clashes between the CPM and the BJP.
The most disturbing aspect of the latest round of violence is that it has spread to new areas, Thiruvananthapuram being the latest to be hit by CPM-BP clashes. Hitherto, violence was confined to Kannur district. That has become a thing of the past with Thiruvananthapuram being added to the ‘disturbed area’ list.
The latest peace meeting also saw politicians mouth the usual platitudes about the paramount need for ending the cycle of violence. Both sides resolved to rein in the hotheads and act against the guilty on their side respectively. But unfortunately,so far, these declarations have remained on paper.
And that exactly is the reason why peace is continuing to elude Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram. To illustrate the point, a few months ago, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said the CPM would not try to protect party activists found to be involved in violence. That statement raised expectations and hopes. But, there has been no follow-up. The result: eruption of fresh violence, that too, in new areas like Thiruvananthapuram.
Here, being the ruling party, the CPM has to take the initiative. The time has come to turn pious declarations into concrete action. The CPM can – and must- make a beginning by acting against party activists behind the latest violence in the Kerala capital. Such deterrent action will make it difficult for the rival BJP-RSS combine not to follow suit.
An important aspect of an earlier peace accord was that party offices and residences of partymen will not be made targets of violence. But Thiruvananthapuram saw flagrant violation of this agreement. In fact, party offices and residences of rival party leaders and activists bore the brunt of violence. Now, this must be stopped forthwith. And an end to the internecine clashes can be ensured only if condign punishment visits violence-instigators, with suspensions from the party, to begin with and expulsions in case of the incorrigible elements.
There is another reason why the CPM, which heads the coalition government in Kerala, must be careful. The RSS-BJP leaders, understandably, have upped the ante by highlighting the violence in Kerala at the national level. Their reasoning for doing that: the CPM-led Left Democratic Government in the state is simply not doing what it must to curb violence. The BJP-RSS combine is steadily building up a case for central intervention by citing the State Government’s failure to take remedial action. In fact, the RSS-BJP has already demanded declaring Kannur district as a disturbed area, warranting the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
State Governor,P. Sathashivam has already summoned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and impressed upon him the need for ensuring an end to the repeated outbreak of violence. Reports have it that the Chief Minister’s angry outburst against media personnel who had come to the venue of the latest peace meeting was due to the tough talk the Governor subjected him to.
The Chief Minister must realise that the media is not supposed to act according to his wishes. Their job is to inform the public. If even the CM comes in the way of their discharge of duty, they must have the courage to voice their opposition to it. That the media personnel meekly walked out without even a whimper of protest when Pinarayi Vijayan bluntly and rudely asked them to ‘get out’ reflects poorly on them. Not even a condemnatory statement has come from the newspaper employees unions. The Fourth estate must not lose its backbone. It must have the courage to speak up when the need arises.
The Chief ministerial arrogance has drawn all-round flak from the opposition parties. The burden of their contention is that Vijayan must stop acting like a high and mighty party secretary. He is the Chief Minister and must exercise verbal restraint befitting the august office of the CM. Failure to do so would cause a big erosion in the party’s voter-support. The CPM’s central leadership must frown upon such arrogant behaviour. Any delay in doing so would only hasten the down-the-hill-slide of the party. (IPA)