Below we publish an open letter written by MB Rajesh, CPI(M) MP from Kerala to Arun Jaitley, union minister for finance and defense, on August 6.
RESPECTED Arun Jaitley,
I appreciate the fact that despite being a senior cabinet minister, in charge of two very important portfolios – finance and defense – you have taken the pain to travel to the southern tip of our country. Your concern for Kerala is very much evident from the fact that you have found time to make this visit at a time when a finance minister has a lot of things to worry about; right from the GST woes, to slowing economy, to declining jobs and so on. Further, you have to keep a close watch on the sensitive developments at our borders as well.
I wonder if you could ever find the time to visit the bereaved families of at least some of the brave soldiers killed in the service of our nation, amidst your heavy responsibilities and hectic schedules.
But sir, still you have found the time to visit the family of an RSS worker who got killed last week in a goonda rivalry. Though I am diametrically opposed to your ideology, I must appreciate your commitment towards it.
As good hosts, we Keralites are known for our hospitality and we always welcome our guests with flowers and great honour, not with stones; be it a leader of a rival party or a minister on a political tour to our beautiful state. I think it will be appropriate to mention here that our chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had to face bitter experiences in other states, from your own government in Madhya Pradesh and your party workers in Karnataka.
You are not seen as a typical Sangh Parivar leader, the hallmark of whom is arrogance and mediocrity but as a civilized leader with a modern outlook and sensible voice. Kerala being an educated society possessing high standards of political comprehension and broad-mindedness respects such leaders irrespective of their political affiliation or ideology. With all respect and high expectations, let me bring some plain truths before you.
You are visiting our state capital, Thiruvananthapuram on a day when an all party meeting has been convened by the chief minister to ensure peace by ending political violence and alleviating tensions. Hence you’ve got a historical opportunity to contribute to the peace initiatives through some goodwill gestures. In the capital alone, in a recent chain of violent atrocities planned and executed by the BJP – RSS combine without any provocation, 120 CPI(M) workers have been seriously injured, 36 houses and possessions of CPI(M) workers and leaders including that of our state secretary and former home minister of the state Kodiyeri Balakrishnan have been attacked and defectively damaged .
I believe, by this time, you might have already received a letter from Remya, a young woman from Kannur district, who is passing through unimaginable mental agony and pain following a gruesome attack on her husband Sreejan Babu; an auto rickshaw driver and the sole bread winner of the poor family. Your Sangh Parivar members carried out that barbaric act against her husband. He has been in the hospital for the last 33 days with a body stitched together through dozens of surgeries. Even now doctors are not in a position to predict how many more days he will have to remain in the hospital or if he might be confined to the bed for the rest of his life. This is not the story of just Sreejan Babu. There are more than 400 CPI(M) workers who have suffered serious injuries at the hands of the RSS-BJP forces in the last one year alone. In this period, 13 were killed by the RSS which includes CPI(M) workers and others.
Correspondents of at least some national television channels have shown the courage to bring out the truth about the political killings which demolishes the lies orchestrated by the Sangh Parivar. Let me draw your attention to one of them. One such report by them based on crime record data between the years 2000 and 2017 clearly states that 86 CPI(M) workers and 65 RSS-BJP workers have lost their lives.
These authentic figures explode the myth of one sided targeted attack and reveal the truth about political violence in Kerala. The very fact admitted by the RSS that the highest number of their shakha’s are neither in Modiji’s Gujarat nor in Yogiji’s Uttar Pradesh, but in Left ruled Kerala, is sufficient to expose the argument that their democratic rights are being violated.
Statistics about different crimes will tell you if Kerala is better off, or Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat are, where your party is in power. Crime and atrocities in these states weren’t topics of prime time discussions or national televisions. An official reply to a question placed in the UP state assembly on July 18, 2017 which revealed a shocking figure of ‘729 murders’ and ‘803 rapes’ in just two months since Yogiji came to power hasn't created any media outcry! Nobody is bothered about failed states, I would say. But in a state like Kerala with a cent per cent literate society and which has always been a leading light to the country, even isolated and petty incidents of violence will cause serious concern. We are very much conscious about it and unlike the RSS, as a responsible political party, the CPI(M) and our government have already taken the necessary steps and initiatives to end violence forever.
My intention in quoting this data is not to justify killings or to indulge in a dirty blame game, but just to convince you of the hypocrisy of framing a narrative of ‘Red terror’ and pretention of innocence by the RSS and the BJP. With hands stained in blood, you cannot claim that you are just victims.
I do not expect you to visit all these concerned families or places attacked by the RSS. Neither is it humanly possible. But if you sincerely wish to send a positive message ahead of the peace talks initiated by the government of Kerala, you could at least pay a visit to Comrade Vishnu’s bereaved family. He was brutally hacked to death by the RSS in the heart of the city, in broad day light. I can show you a bunch of similar examples too.
Am sure that your RSS bosses will not allow you to visit the home of any CPI(M) activist killed by them, but I’ve got a humble suggestion. If you could do it, please find some time to console the families of two teenage RSS activists who were regular in shakhas – Ananthu of Alleppey district and Nirmal from Thrissur district – who were both brutally eliminated by their own RSS colleagues! And, could you please ask them why these two names didn't find a mention in the list read out by your party MPs in our parliament? Why no disciplinary actions were taken against any of the RSS or the BJP workers who were arrested for killing their own companions?
Before ending this letter let me draw your attention to a meticulously planned propaganda unleashed by the RSS against our state. Their intentions are now clearer with the demand for imposing President’s rule here. But in order to serve this narrow political purpose, they shamed not only the history of Kerala, but also its impressive and outstanding record on socio-economic achievements. The tactics of ridiculing the state out of political frustration was launched by none other than the prime minister himself, by equating Kerala with Somalia, in his speech at the time of our last assembly elections. I wonder why you haven’t learned any lesson from the massive response against the statement by Keralites across the globe. Subsequently a television channel acting as your mouth piece equated Kerala with Pakistan and felt the heat of our outrage, yet again. Within no time, they had to withdraw their remarks with an unconditional apology. The people of Kerala, despite political differences, will never compromise on our self esteem. The roots of our self esteem are evident in our history of struggle against British imperialism and feudal landlords, which I know you are very much aware of. Those who lack such a proud history can’t easily digest this. The yardstick of Sangh Parivar isn’t sufficient to measure this state and our progressive society which I could say proudly is the way ahead for the rest of India in all fronts. I am attaching the NCRB and the NFHS data to substantiate my point.
Finally, I hope, as one of the senior most leaders of the country, you will rise above the petty party considerations and play a responsible role in resolving the issues.
My request is to advice your colleagues to participate wholeheartedly in the peace process. Let us accept that the loss of every human life – irrespective of party affiliation – is sad. Let us work together to ensure that politics will be a battle of ideas, not weapons.