keralaCong. up its ante in anti-CPI(M) stand-off

The police canecharging a UDF worker during a Congress protest in Kottayam on Saturday.

The police canecharging a UDF worker during a Congress protest in Kottayam on Saturday. | Photo Credit: VISHNU PRATHAP

The Congress has upped its ante in the tense stand-off with the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] following the widely condemned Students Federation of India (SFI) attack on the regional office of Rahul Gandhi, MP, at Kalpetta in the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.

Aggressive street protests erupted across the State for the second day on Saturday in the politically turbulent aftermath of Friday's violence. In Kottayam, several persons on both sides were injured when Congress activists clashed with the police.

In Wayanad, senior Congress leaders marched in front of hundreds of Opposition activists in an edgy anti-CPI(M) protest in Kalpetta town. The police lined the route to pre-empt further violence.

The arrest and remand in judicial custody of 19 SFI activists and the suspension of the sub-divisional officer in charge of law and order in Kalpetta failed to placate the Opposition.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran and United Democratic Front (UDF) convener M.M. Hassan linked the attack to the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) and Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener E. P. Jayarajan respectively. They alleged the SFI was merely the cat's paw of the CPI(M) leadership.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the CMO had orchestrated the violence to divert attention from the scandals plaguing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family.

He said the Opposition's ire would manifest as protests in the Assembly when it convenes on June 27. On June 30, Mr. Gandhi will attend a massive rally in Wayanad.

The Youth Congress threatened to disrupt Health Minister Veena George's public functions following an accusation that a ministerial staff member had led the Wayanad attack. The political reverberations of Friday's violence rippled across Kerala's borders.

In New Delhi, Youth Congress workers laid siege to the CPI(M) national headquarters AKG Bhavan. The attack also drew across-the-board censure from leaders of all political hues.

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan denounced the attack.

The wave of rebukes seemed to portray the CPI(M) and SFI in an unflattering light.

The incident also accorded some impish glee to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "The relentless Congress-CPI(M) fracas in Kerala indicated that the so-called emerging national Opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rule was a chimaera," Mr. Muraleedharan said.

A purportedly defensive CPI(M) State committee and SFI's State secretariat were convened at AKG Centre to finalise a damage control strategy.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 6:34:12 pm |