The left-ruled Kerala is in the news for wrong reasons. Ties between the state and Centre vitiated after the murder of a RSS leader in the state capital. The RSS upped the ante seeking President’s rule and the Centre rushed finance minister Arun Jaitley to the state. After visiting the house of the latest victim the union minister said the cold-blooded political murders in the state even shame terrorists. Amid the war of words between red and saffron forces Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to the Hindustan Times. Excerpts:
Q: Why Kerala is in headlines now?
It is part of an orchestrated and malicious campaign. RSS and BJP are not only tarnishing the government but also insulting people of Kerala. Any sensible person can see through their game. Statistics show Kerala is just contrary to what they are trying to depict. As per the NCRB statistics, Kerala is the State where murder rates are lowest.Here nobody will be attacked while travelling on a train or a bus just because one belongs to a particular religion or caste. Here people are free here to eat and cook in accordance with their choice. It does not mean that such elements of intolerance are totally absent in the State. Of course, presence of communal elements and representatives of hate politics are operating in Kerala also. However, they can’t unleash violence here just because secular conviction of our people is so strong. One of the central ministers visited Thiruvananthapuram with a team of senior journalists after the violent incidents last week. I believe, journalists who accompanied the minister, must have convinced that the campaigning against Kerala is totally baseless.
Q: RSS-BJP say Kannur-model is spreading to other parts. They even sought President’s rule in the state?
The violent incidents occurred in Thiruvananthapurm city in the last week of July was an isolated one. The police have taken stringent measures and arrested all assailants irrespective of their affiliation. I believe people would appreciate the impartial probe. We had an all-party meeting on Sunday to prevent further violence. With regard to Article 356, it shows sheer intolerance of these forces. They want to impose President’s rule in a State which has been best in law and order and completely free from communal riots. They want to dismiss a government where registered murder cases a year come to just 305, while UP has over 4700 murders in a year.
Q: CPI(M) says its workers killed more than BJP and RSS?
True, people know that who are the real perpetrators of violence and killings. These same forces are trying to paint Kerala as a “killing filed” in the name of some isolated incidents. You know that BJP-RSS leadership in Kerala is embroiled in corruption scandals including one related to sanctioning of medical colleges. What is more important is that the corrupt dealings were exposed by an inner party inquiry of the BJP itself. Unfortunately, few incidents occurred despite the vigil of police. We know that police alone can’t prevent violence. Support of political parties is imperative to maintain peace. We will do it.
Q: Why killings can’t be stopped? How to put an end to it?
Since the present government assumed office a year ago, we have succeeded in containing political violence and all other crimes. Police are free to take impartial actions and they are doing it. There is no political interference. Apart from measures by the Police, we are engaging political parties to maintain peace. All-party meetings have been held after the Trivandrum incidents in three districts. Practically it is a two-pronged approach. We have asked all parties to make aware their followers about the importance of maintaining peace and the necessity of keeping away from violence. Message has to go down effectively. We hope our efforts would yield results.
Q: Why RSS-BJP want to target such a small state and your party which is in power only in two states?
The question is very pertinent. I must say the geographically small State of Kerala has been traditionally influencing the discourse of the country with progressive ideas and innovative programmes. Its voice really transcends the physical boundaries of the State. It means Left forces have been influencing public opinion beyond its strength and presence. This is the reason why RSS wants to throttle and choke the Left movement and Left government in Kerala.
Q: You were in power for 15 months. What are your government’s main achievements?
Even though 15 months is a short period to evaluate a government, we have laid a solid foundation for the next four years and set specific development goals. You know that Kerala’s development indices are comparable to that of global standards. We have achieved remarkable successes in social, economic and health sectors. Kerala ranks first in India with a high Human Development Index. It is only state in the country to bring down infant mortality rate to UN standards.