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Jaitley launches direct attack on Kerala’s LDF government

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan meet family members of RSS worker Rajesh who was killed recently   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

Giving a stern warning to the Left Democratic Front government and the CPI(M) against the sporadic incidents of political violence that erupted in different parts of the State against the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers during the past few weeks, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said here on Sunday that the State government should show the political will to contain such incidents and restore normality at the earliest.

Addressing reporters after visiting the residence of Rajesh, an RSS activist killed in the city last week, and talking to the family members of victims of various such incidents, Mr. Jaitley accused the police of remaining mute spectators to the violence.

Whenever the Left Democratic Front came to power in the State, CPI(M) workers “tend to target their political foes.” Aberrations are an exception, but if there is a pattern to such incidents, it should be viewed seriously, he said.

According to him, the violence had marred peace in the State, hit its stability and also hampered economic growth and development.

 

‘Barbaric act’

Mr. Jaitley described the killing of Rajesh as a “barbaric act’’ done without any provocation. Multiple wounds were inflicted by the assailants. Even enemy nations would not treat people like this, he said.

The State government should award stringent, deterrent punishment to the perpetrators of such violence, he said.

He laid the onus for curbing such incidents on the State government and wanted it to act expeditiously without “considering the political affiliation or religion of the accused.”

Referring to news reports that he had called on only the affected families of Sangh Parivar workers and ignored those of CPI(M) cadre, Mr. Jaitley said he was not averse to meeting anyone, including the families of CPI(M) activists. But he rejected the government’s argument that CPI(M) workers were also affected by the violence. “This is not an advisable stance for a government. It should act to bring the violence to an end.”

He also denied the charge that the RSS also had an active role in the violent incidents. The growth of the BJP or the RSS cannot be deterred by violence, he said.

‘Double standards’

Those who are critical of the ‘stray incidents’ that erupt in NDA-ruled States choose to remain silent about the untoward incidents in Kerala, he claimed. Those who go on a vigorous campaign against the NDA and the BJP are adopting a different stance when violence erupts in Kerala. This smacks of double standards, he charged.

Referring to Governor P. Sathasivam summoning Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to the Raj Bhavan in the wake of the violence in the capital, Mr. Jaitley said the Governor was only discharging his official duty to advise the government in times of need, or otherwise he would have been seen as remaining a mute spectator to the violence.

 

Mr. Sathasivam was only performing the task assigned to him as per the Constitution, he added.

Mr. Jaitley, who reached the capital by noon, called at Rajesh’s house first, consoled his family members and offered all support to them. Addressing a gathering of party workers after the visit, he said the time had come for the government to ‘introspect’ whether it should focus on development initiatives or “aid the perpetrators of violence.”

Mr. Jaitley’s visit to the slain Dalit activist’s residence assumes significance in the wake of the national campaign the BJP has launched against the CPI(M), accusing it of targeting the Dalits and the Backward Classes. This move is expected to help the party get rid of its upper caste image and also gain acceptability among the Dalits and other backward classes.

The party that was recently rocked by the medical college bribery scam in the State, was trying to regain its lost image by raising the issue of political violence. A two-member committee of senior BJP leaders who probed a complaint against a minor party functionary, R.S. Vinod, of taking ₹6 crore from a private medical college owner, had found him and a senior leader guilty of the charges levelled against them. Mr. Vinod was expelled from the party but no further action was taken.

Congress leader Tom Vadakkan said Mr. Jaitley should have visited the families of victims of political violence across party lines.

“I would have appreciated it if he had shown greater statesmanship by visiting all victims across the board, as he is a Central minister,” Mr. Vadakkan told The Hindu. “I appreciate his visit but comments like those of his party MP Meenakshi Lekhi calling Kerala a godforsaken country hurt people from Kerala. You have to win hearts if you want to make a difference.”

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat was scathing in her attack on Mr. Jaitley.

“He is the Finance Minister but he has demeaned his position. He has taken a one-sided view and promoted the RSS’s partisan position to portray themselves as victims. However, as Mr. Jaitley himself knows, CPI(M) cadres have been killed in larger numbers. The timing of his visit when the State government is holding peace talks down to the district level is to disrupt the process. Lastly, the RSS that has been unable to make any advance of its sectarian agenda in Kerala is using its power through the Central government to threaten the State government. The people of Kerala will give a befitting reply.”

(With inputs from Vikas Pathak)

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 9:15:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jaitley-launches-direct-attack-on-keralas-ldf-government/article19439497.ece

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