A section of the Janata Dal (Secular) in Kerala, led by M.P. Veerendrakumar, launched a party, the Socialist Janata (Democratic), at a public meeting here on Saturday.

Writer U. R. Ananthamurthy handed over the party flag to Mr. Veerendrakumar.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Veerendrakumar said the new party, founded on the socialist ideals of Rammanohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan, would fight capitalist and fundamentalist forces, and privatisation of natural resources, including water.

“Upholding democracy, secularism, socialism and social justice, the SJ(D) will strive to protect Dalits and minorities. It will fight for democratic rights, environmental protection, women's emancipation and creation of a people's land policy. Unlike, many other parties including the CPI (M), the SJ (D) will not change its policies and practices every now and then for electoral gains,” he said.

Slams CPI (M)

Mr. Veerendrakumar alleged that the CPI(M) was dividing Hindus and Muslims with an eye on votes. “The policies of the CPI(M) do not protect the rights of the people, but promote the land mafia.”

Until 2009, the Kerala unit of the Janata Dal (S) was a part of the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front. The CPI(M)-JD(S) ties came under strain around 2008. Things worsened when the CPI(M) failed to give the JD(S) a ticket for the Kozhikode parliamentary constituency, considered its pocket borough, in the 2009 elections. An enraged section of the JD(S) State unit went on to pledge support to the UDF.

After the elections, Jose Thettayil (who later became the Transport Minister) and Mathew T. Thomas, MLAs, chose to stay on with the JD(S), led nationally by Karnataka strongman H.D. Deve Gowda, and to remain loyal to the LDF.

The group led by Mr. Veerendrakumar comprises MLAs K.P. Mohanan (Peringalam), M.V. Shreyams Kumar (Kalpetta) and M.K. Premnath (Vadakara) and aligned itself with the UDF.

Assembly elections are due in Kerala in less than a year.

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