New Delhi ,March 31 : The Congress, which has aligned with the Left in Bengal, has been explicitly comparing the CPM-led Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala with the BJP in terms of propaganda, corruption and even the tendency to curb people’s freedom.
While Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to campaign in Bengal, has avoided launching a brutal attack on the Left, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who started her tour of Kerala on Tuesday bluntly attacked the CPM for “borderline fascist culture” and demonstrating traits similar to the BJP in governance style. She condemned the Pinarayi Vijayan stint as a “government of fraud and scams”.
Without feeling hemmed in by the political exigencies of Bengal camaraderie, the Congress chose to intensify its attack on the Left in Kerala after feedback from the ground suggested a much closer contest than predicted initially. Reports from both Assam and Kerala indicate the Congress is very much in the race for power, compelling both Rahul and Priyanka to step up campaigning in both states.
While Rahul, who has toured Kerala and Tamil Nadu extensively, would have reached Assam on Tuesday but for bad weather that cancelled his flight, Priyanka who had been in Assam for the past two days has started her Kerala campaign.
Comparing the CPM rule in Kerala with the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, she said: “The Kerala government’s attitude towards women’s security is similar to what we see in Uttar Pradesh. Their handling of the Walayar rape case was similar to the Hathras case of Uttar Pradesh.”
In Walayar in 2017, two Dalit sisters had committed suicide after being raped by multiple men over a period of time.
The accused were later acquitted amid allegations of political interference and a botched-up probe by police.
Priyanka also wondered how an LDF ally was raising the issue of “love jihad” like Adityanath.
The Congress has run a campaign on social media, pointing out that the term “love jihad” was coined by former CPM chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, not Adityanath. Priyanka alleged the LDF government was curbing people’s freedom and instilling fear in the minds of citizens.
Rahul, who has campaigned in Kerala extensively, focused on the economy and jobs although he said both the CPM and the BJP didn’t have any answer to the scourge of unemployment.
He said the Kerala chief minister looked for answers in his favourite book — Das Kapital by Karl Marx — instead of trying to understand what the people were actually facing on the ground. But he avoided comparing the CPM with the BJP unlike Priyanka who made the “borderline fascist” jibe. While Rahul will campaign in Bengal after a few days, Priyanka is not scheduled to do so.
Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala, who has been camping in Kerala, has been viciously attacking the state government, going to the extent of accusing Vijayan of striking a deal with the Adani Group to save himself in the “gold smuggling” case. He said: “Narendra Modi and Vijayan together reduced the quota of solar energy for Kerala from 2.75 per cent to 0.25 per cent to facilitate the purchase of wind power from Adani at a much higher cost than available in the open market.”
Surjewala issued a statement on Tuesday along with senior leaders from Kerala, which said: “The six “Ds (disasters) of Pinarayi Vijayan’s rule are the hallmarks of the disastrous five years of the LDF government in Kerala. Pinarayi Vijayan is a replica of Narendra Modi, both in ‘authoritarian’ style and in running a self-centred ‘autocratic’ government. ‘Pinarayi-nomics’ has destroyed Kerala’s progressive march. ‘Pinarayi-cracy’ has derailed Kerala’s growth story. ‘Pinarayi-deals’ has created space for the BJP by way of a secret deal between the chief minister and the Prime Minister.”
Surjewala identified the “six disasters” as “decimating economy, deceiving farmers, denying drinking water, demonising Scheduled Castes, denuding youth of employment and diabolical corruption.”
These are the same allegations that the Congress usually levels against the Modi government. After polling in Kerala on April 6, the Congress will have to sing a different tune in Bengal, transplanting these allegations on the main challenger BJP and the ruling Trinamul Congress.