The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is divided on the issue of a national ban on endosulfan even as its campaigners highlight the cause of the victims of the same in its campaign in Kasaragod constituency in Kerala. The BJP manifesto for the State Assembly elections, released on Monday, is silent on endosulfan and pesticide use though it speaks of environmental protection in general terms.
The RSS units in Kerala and Karnataka are generally in favour of a ban on the insecticide which had caused endless misery to more than 4000 people in Kasaragod district, while the BJP unit in Gujarat is opposed to the ban. Bhava Nagar in Gujarat has a factory manufacturing endosulfan and the local leadership is not in favour of discontinuation of production. There is some opposition to discontinuation of use of endosulfan from cotton farmers also.
Karanataka government has banned endosulfan in the State in view of the harm done by the pesticide to people in Dakshina Kannada district adjoining Kasaragod district. However, dissidents in the party unit are politically opposed to the measures being taken by the government, according to sources. There are also differences in the agriculture cell of the party at the national level.
Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, told The Hindu that the party had not so far discussed the demand for national ban on endosulfan or India’s stand against global ban on endosulfan at the Stockholm convention in any party fora. It has to discuss and take a policy decision on the matter. Asked whether there were differences in the party over the issue, she said that would be known only when the party discussed the issue.
Ms. Swaraj has held discussions with the local leadership of the BJP in Kasaragod on the issue earlier after the local unit of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha represented the matter to her during her visit to the district. The Kasaragod unit of the Morcha is active in the campaign against the endosulfan.
The BJP has a strong base in Kasaragod and Manjeswar constituencies where the contest is effectively three-cornered among the UDF, LDF and the BJP. While the BJP campaign in Manjeswar is mainly centered on minority issues, the BJP candidate in Kasaragod Jayalakshmi B. Bhatt is taking a stand in favour of the victims.