In a “warning to Leftists”, an RSS leader from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh has announced a bounty of Rs 1 crore on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s head. Promising to “offer a garland of three lakh human skulls to Bharat Mata” for the alleged killing of 300 RSS workers, Kundan Chandrawat, the RSS sah prachar pramukh (joint publicity chief) of Ujjain, made the statement in a programme organised to protest against the political killings of RSS members in Kerala.
“Teen sau pracharak aur karyakartaon ki hatya kari hai na tumne? Teen lakh narmundo ki varmala pahnaenge Bharat Mata ko, wampanthiyo sun lo (You have killed 300 pracharaks and activists, haven’t you? We will garland Bharat Mata with three lakh human skulls, this is a warning to Leftists),” Chandrawat said in the programme, which was also attended by BJP MP Chintamani Malviya and MLA Mohan Yadav.
Targeting Pinarayi, he said, “I, Dr Kundan Chandrawat, declare from this dais, I have wealth that is why I say this… property worth more than Rs 1 crore. Cut off Vijayan’s head, and bring it to me, I will transfer my house and assets in your name”. Chandrawat also referred to the Godhra train burning incident and reminded the audience of the violence that followed. “Fifty-six people were killed (and) 2,000 were sent to the graveyard. This very Hindu community sent them underground,” he said.
According to reports, Pinarayi’s home district and the epicentre of clashes between the two parties, Kannur, alone has seen 301 incidents of political violence in the first four months of the new Left Democratic Front (LDF) government coming to power. Clashes between workers of CPM and the RSS-BJP combine have claimed over 250 lives in the district in the past five decades, according to official sources.
In recent times, the violence has intensified due to several reasons. While RSS leaders say the violence is directed against members of their organisation to stop RSS’s growth in the state, left leaning CPM leaders attribute violence on their members as an effort to aid the pro-capital right wing. For example, the efforts of Mangalore-based businessmen to enter the Muslim-dominated markets of Kannur is cited as the reason for the 1971 riot of Thalassery. CPM viewed this violence against Muslims as RSS trying to gain ground in district.
Patronage by powerful political leaders from both camps, who are more concerned about preserving party’s political interests than seeing justice get delivered, appears to be the root cause of the continuation of this violence. In Kannur, both parties started adopting villages in the 1960s to prevent people from fleeing due to the violence. These villages now function almost as fortresses, preventing police action and protecting the accused. Police data from 1991 onwards, in fact, shows that the number of political murders increase every time the LDF comes to power.
That top political leaders themselves are never punished is another problem. The presence of a strong business lobby from the Middle East, which funds most parties during elections, ensures that the role of top leaders is never probed. A case in point is the murder of rebel CPM leader T P Chandrasekharan, which involved CPM members. His wife wanted a CBI investigation but even the BJP government opposed the plea for a CBI investigation into the case in court.
The RSS has, as in other cases of hate speech and violence, sought to distance itself from Chandrawat’s remarks, stating his remarks were “not an official version of the RSS”. “The RSS, from the beginning, has never believed in violence and believes in democratic protest. The RSS condemns the emotional comments made by Kundan,” the RSS All-India Sah Prachar Pramukh J Nandkumar said. Chandrawat has also been relieved of official responsibilities for making the statement. Pinarayi responded to Chandrawat’s statement by saying that he rejects “the threat with contempt”. Other CPM and Congress leaders have also condemned this statement.