Political murders

Political murders: Is the CPM losing control over its cadres in Kerala?

Over the past three weeks, three BJP workers have died after being attacked in the state.

The murders of three Bharatiya Janata Party workers overs the past three weeks signals the return of political violence to Kerala, dealing a major blow to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s ambitious plan to end the violence that has long plagued the state. Political observers say the incidents also expose the loosening grip of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership on its cadres.

In the latest incident, fifty-two-year-old Santhosh was hacked to death at his home on Wednesday in Andalur, which falls under Chief Minister Vijayan’s Dharmadam Assembly constituency in Kannur district. Police are interrogating six Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers in connection with the incident. Till Friday evening, no arrests had been made.

At the end of last month, in the relatively peaceful district of Palakkad, a group of people allegedly from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) set fire to a few motorcycles outside the home of BJP worker Radhakrishnan. The house caught fire after a nearby gas cylinder exploded. Radhakrishnan died in hospital a week later while being treated for burn injuries. Vimala, a BJP Mahila Morcha worker and member of his family, who was also injured in the attack, succumbed to her injuries on Monday.

These incidents have dealt a blow to the chief minister’s efforts to bring peace to a state whose lush countryside has concealed the dark underbelly of political violence for decades.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened an all-party meeting in Thiruvananthapuram last November in which leaders of major political parties resolved to work for peace. At that meeting, Vijayan assured those present that stern action would be taken against perpetrators of violence irrespective of their party affiliation.

Victim card?

The BJP has been complaining about an increase in the number of attacks on its cadres ever since the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government came into power in May last year.

At its state council meeting held in Kottayam on Wednesday, it formulated a strategy to put pressure on the state government by making the attacks a huge national issue by projecting itself as the victim.

BJP workers outside the building in Kannur, Kerala, where the body of a slain party worker was kept. (Photo credit: TA Ameerudheen).
BJP workers outside the building in Kannur, Kerala, where the body of a slain party worker was kept. (Photo credit: TA Ameerudheen).

Speaking at the meeting, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu blamed communist cadres for attacks on Sangh Parivar workers.

“The entire nation has been watching what the CPM is doing in Kerala,” said Naidu. “I warn the CPM that you will get it back politically. Red and blood won’t succeed anymore.”

Controversial BJP parliamentarian from Karnataka, Nalin Kumar Kateel went a step ahead and warned that Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres in other parts of the country would suffer if the attacks on BJP workers continued in Kerala.

“The CPM would know about the strength of the BJP in other parts of the country if they did not stop violence against the BJP workers in Kerala,” Kateel said at Kottayam.

Pressure tactics

While addressing the BJP National Council meeting in Kozhikode last September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also raised the issue of violence in the state. He said that BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers in Kerala were being targeted for their different ideology, which could not be allowed in a democracy. “There should be a nationwide debate on the issue,” he said.

Last December, Pinarayi Vijayan was forced to abandon a programme organised by several Malayali organisations in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, after Sangh Parivar cadres waved placards saying “Kerala CM P Vijayan go back” and “India will never forgive the murder of swayamsevaks”.

The state government later apologised to Vijayan for the incident.

Earlier this month, the Union government put pressure on the Vijayan government by deciding to provide Y category security to the state’s top four BJP leaders – president Kummanam Rajasekharan, former president PK Krishnadas, and general secretaries MT Ramesh and K Surendran.

Victim vs perpetrator?

Wednesday’s murder has raised questions whether the ruling party has fallen prey to the Sangh Parivar’s plan to project itself as the victim of violence at the hands of the communists.

Political observer NM Pearson did not think so. Pearson said that the strategy to play victim may be effective elsewhere in the country, but not in Kerala.

“It won’t work in Kerala as people know that BJP too perpetrates crime,” he said. “The attacks will weaken the CPI (M) as it will lose the support of many liberal voices.”

He said that the resumption of violence is evidence of the communist leadership’s waning control over its cadres, adding that the leaders seemed to lack the political acumen to control their workers.

“It shows the inability of the leaders to rein in local activists,” he said. “Many of these incidents have its roots in local issues. It is their duty to solve issues at the local level itself.”

Writer and social activist, K Venu, agreed with Pearson’s observations.

“If there was strong control over its cadres, Kerala wouldn’t have experienced the return of violence at a time when Pinarayi was trying to find peace,” said Venu.

Venu added that the incidents gave the BJP a chance to project the violence as a huge national issue. “It is a big setback for CPI (M),” he said.

Immediately after Santhosh’s death, the BJP demanded the central government’s intervention in the issue. It also called for a hartal in Kannur on Thursday, which threw life out of gear.

Pearson said that the communist leadership needed to bring about a change in its response to attacks.

“I feel that the CPI (M) is moving in the wrong direction,” said Pearson. “Since the party is in power, it should ask its cadres not to retaliate for attacks [on them] and help the police bring the culprits to book. But CPM leaders are behaving recklessly. It is paying the price for its own mistakes.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Want to retire at 45? Make your money work for you

Common sense and some discipline are all you need.

Dreaming of writing that book or taking that cruise when you hit your 40s? Well this dream need not be unrealistic.

All it takes is simple math and the foresight to do some smart financial planning when you are still young. If you start early and get into the discipline of cutting down on unnecessary expenditure, using that money to invest systematically, you can build wealth that sets you free to tick those items off your bucket list sooner than later.

A quick look at how much you spend on indulgences will give you an idea of how much you can save and invest. For example, if you spend, say Rs. 1,000 on movie watching per week, this amount compounded over 10 years means you would have spent around Rs 7,52,000 on just movies! You can try this calculation for yourself. Think of any weekly or monthly expense you regularly make. Now use this calculator to understand how much these expenses will pile up overtime with the current rate of inflation.

Now imagine how this money could have grown at the end of 10 years and overcome the inflation effect if you had instead taken a part invested it somewhere!

It is no rocket science

The fact is that financial planning is simpler than we imagine it to be. Some simple common sense and a clear prioritization of life’s goals is all you need:

  1. Set goals and work backwards: Everything starts with what you want. So, what are your goals? Are they short-term (like buying a car), medium-term (buying a house) or long-term (comfortable living post-retirement). Most of us have goals that come under all the three categories. So, our financial plans should reflect that. Buying a house, for example, would mean saving up enough money for up-front payment and ensuring you have a regular source of income for EMI payment for a period of at least 15-20 years. Buying a car on the other hand might just involve having a steady stream of income to pay off the car loan.
  2. Save first, spend later: Many of us make the mistake of putting what is left, after all our expenses have been met, in the savings kitty. But the reverse will have more benefits in the long run. This means, putting aside a little savings, right at the beginning of the month in the investment option that works best for you. You can then use the balance to spend on your expenditures. This discipline ensures that come what may, you remain on track with your saving goals.
  3. Don’t flaunt money, but use it to create more: When you are young and get your first jobit is tempting to spend on a great lifestyle. But as we’ve discussed, even the small indulgences add up to a serious amount of cash over time. Instead, by regulating indulgences now and investing the rest of your money, you can actually become wealthy instead of just seeming to be so.
  4. Set aside emergency funds: When an emergency arises, like sudden hospitalisation or an accident, quick access to money is needed. This means keeping aside some of your money in liquid assets (accessible whenever you want it). It thus makes sense to regularly save a little towards creating this emergency fund in an investment that can be easily liquidated.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: This is something any investment adviser will tell you, simply because different investment options come with different benefits and risks and suit different investment horizons. By investing in a variety of instruments or options, you can hedge against possible risks and also meet different goals.

How and Why Mutual Funds work

A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment scheme that pools money collected from investors like you and invests this into a diversified portfolio (an optimal mix) of stocks, bonds and other securities.

As an investor, you buy ‘units’, under a mutual fund scheme. The value of these units (Net Asset Value) fluctuates depending on the market value of the mutual fund’s investments. So, the units can be bought or redeemed as per your needs and based on the value.

As mentioned, the fund is managed by professionals who follow the market closely the make calls on where to invest money. This makes these funds a great option for someone who isn’t financially very savvy but is interested in saving up for the future.

So how is a mutual fund going to help to meet your savings goals? Here’s a quick Q&A helps you understand just that:

  1. How do mutual funds meet my investment needs?Mutual Funds come with a variety of schemes that suit different goals depending on whether they are short-term, medium-term or long-term.
  2. Can I withdraw money whenever I want to?There are several mutual funds that offer liquidity – quick and easy access to your money when you want it. For example, there are liquid mutual funds which do not have any lock in period and you can invest your surplus money even for one day. Based on your goals, you can divide your money between funds with longer term or shorter term benefits.
  3. Does it help save on taxes?Investing in certain types of mutual funds also offers you tax benefits. More specifically, investing in Equity Linked Saving Schemes, which are funds that invest in a diverse portfolio of equities, offers you tax deductions up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
  4. Don’t I need a lot of money to invest in MFs?No, you can start small. The returns in terms of percentage is the same irrespective of the amount you invest in. Additionally, the Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) allows you to invest a small amount weekly, monthly or quarterly in a mutual fund. So, you get to control the size and frequency of your investment and make sure you save before you spend.
  5. But aren’t MFs risky?Well many things in life are risky! Mutual funds try to mitigate your risk by investing your money across a variety of securities. You can further hedge risk by investing in 2 to 3 mutual offers that offer different growth stories i.e. a blue-chip fund and a mid-cap fund. Also remember in a mutual fund, your money is being managed by professionals who are constantly following the market.
  6. Don’t I have to wait too long to get back my returns?No! Mutual Funds, because of the variety of options they offer, can give you gains in the short or medium term too.

The essence of MF is that your money is not lying idle, but is dynamically invested and working for you. To know more about how investing in mutual funds really works for you, see here.

Disclaimer: Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mutual Funds Sahi Hai and not by the Scroll editorial team.