Kerala: Former Naxalite Chathu endorses Modi 3.0 but for a different reason

Chathu has voted only once in his lifetime -- in a parliament election before he entered active politics. This time, he is in no mood to make a boycott call.
Former Naxalite Chathu.
Former Naxalite Chathu.

MANANTHAVADY: Most political opponents of the BJP believe that a third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be a threat to the future of the country. But ex-Naxalite Chathu, also a former leader of radical organisation Porattam, begs to differ. He hopes for a thumping victory for the BJP and potential state-sponsored Hindu hypernationalism. Ask why.

“Only then will the people wake up from their slumber. They will unite and rise up in protest against the prevailing system of inequality and injustice. It will be a kind of repeat of the Independence Movement against the colonial empire,” Chathu says.

TNIE caught up with Chathu, 75, at his residence in Mananthavady, Wayanad. He believes equality, justice and a dignified living are elusive to a majority of the countrymen. The existing system, including elections, is heavily tilted towards the wealthy, he says.

During the 2016 assembly elections, Chathu and some other Porattam leaders were jailed for issuing a call to boycott the polls. He was charged under the stringent UAPA and was remanded for six months. The trial of the case is yet to begin.“Even the judiciary is beyond the reach of the poor. Only the rich can afford to approach the High Court or the Supreme Court. How can we call this a fair system?” he asks.

Chathu has voted only once in his lifetime -- in a parliament election before he entered active politics. This time, he is in no mood to make a boycott call.

“I don’t know the latest stand of Porattam. As I’m distancing myself from the organisation, I didn’t enquire about it,” says Chathu, who is not on good terms with the leadership that decided to cooperate with the SDPI some years ago.

“I couldn’t digest it. How can an organisation working for socialism and equality cooperate with one that believes in religious rule and oppression of women,” he wonders.

Before joining the Naxal Movement in 1972, Chathu had a long stint with the CPM. He severed ties with the party after its local leaders sided with the murderers of a poor villager. In 1986, he joined Porattam and served as its northern region convenor.

Highly critical of the Left government and its major ally CPM, Chathu says, “Communism and Marxism remain only in CPM’s name, not in party’s deeds.”

Chathu and his wife Shailaja eke out a living from farming. He had earlier won the best farmer award from the state government.

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