From Red to Saffron: Kerala CPM office turns over to BJP as members migrate en masse in Kovalam

Videos of BJP workers painting over the Che Guevara wall portrait in the Kovalam party office was shared widely on social media, inviting both criticism and trolling
From Red to Saffron: Kerala CPM office turns over to BJP as members migrate en masse in Kovalam
Illustration Purposes (not real depiction)

The CPM is facing an existential crisis at Kovalam in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, where their branch office of nine years was converted into a BJP office when Left members joined the saffron party in bulk. Videos of BJP workers painting over the Che Guevara wall portrait was shared widely on social media, inviting both criticism and trolling.

On Tuesday, BJP state president K Surendran shared on social media how more than 100 local committee members of CPM, INC, and Janata Dal (Secular) joined the saffron party in Kerala ahead of the elections. Interestingly, the migration of the Left to the saffron isn’t new in the state. He added that Kerala is a Tripura in the making.

Surendran was referring to the inauguration of the new NDA election building in Kerala, where the Thottam and Panavilla branches of the CPM joined BJP en masse. Earlier, the party had ejected Kovalam area committee members Prabhakaran and Madhu for supporting an independent candidate during the local body polls against the LDF. Instead, the two former left leaders pulled the CPM cadre from the area and joined the BJP.

When the images of BJP transforming the party office came to the fore, the CPM had explained that the building was under the private ownership of Madhu thus, the claims of BJP capturing the CPM office is a misinterpreted narrative. The ruling party claimed that they weren’t CPM workers but former Left members who migrated to the BJP. However, on the other side, the BJP is happy that they can create a foothold in the coastal areas and the vote share, which had been traditionally a left forte. Sources within the party say that with the current issues rocking the boat, especially the EMCC India deep-sea fishing deal, the Left might lose votes here, and they could snatch it up.

On the other hand, CPM cannot claim that this is a one-off incident since the party has been losing workers in Kerala for quite some time to BJP. A few years back, Hadiya’s (formerly Akhila) conversion to Islam and her marrying a Muslim man had sparked a nationwide controversy. The issue began with her father KM Ashokan, a former CPM member, filing a case against them, calling the marriage illegal. However, with justice on her side, things didn’t turn out well for him.

From Red to Saffron: Kerala CPM office turns over to BJP as members migrate en masse in Kovalam
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While a party that prides itself on being secular and progressive failed to see that there are few things more important to an individual than party politics. Soon after the trial, Ashokan would jump to BJP citing that the “CPM was playing dirty politics with the Sabarimala issue”. Years before that, in 2014, more than 240 CPM members moved to the saffron party. At the event, the then BJP state president V Muraleedharan said that the Left party was facing “ideological disarray”.

In December 2018, the then Kerala president of BJP PS Sreedharan Pillai would announce that over 18,600 Left workers have moved to the saffron party. While the number would remain contentious, political experts opine that there has been significant migration from the Left to BJP in Kerala. This includes not just the transfer of members but also the support base, which had helped the CPM thrive. Pillai was speaking at an event where the party was welcoming over 24 members of CPM and CPI from Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Alappuzha into their folds. Moreover, in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the LDF will win only one seat out of 20 in Kerala. While the BJP did not win any seats, they have alarmingly increased their vote share. They would win almost half the votes that LDF did, which, according to the CPM, claims should be impossible.

The party continued to lose workers even as the Assembly election is around the corner. In June and September, the CPM lost almost 50 people in important local positions from its main party as well as the DYFI. More importantly, this migration is more common in places where there is a visible BJP-CPM conflict. Yet, the LDF leader and Kerala Chief Minister would like to tell you that the Left is the only true answer to the saffron ‘terror’.

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