NEW DELHI:After his conquest of Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 General Elections, BJP national president Amit Shah has now trained his guns on the Left bastions—West Bengal and Kerala. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has been desperately trying all tricks in the book, including inviting once-expelled Somnath Chatterjee into the party fold, to keep his depleting flock together. But as bad luck would have it for Yechury, Shah, who understands the threat of a political opponent with a strong ideological backbone, is ready with an ‘Operation Red’ to erase whatever little remains of the Left in the states that were once its strongholds.
As part of Operation Red, Shah has told the BJP cadres in West Bengal and Kerala, especially the latter, to focus their attention on attracting the CPI(M) cadres into the saffron fold. Directive has also been issued to win over the Left cadre who are disillusioned by the increasing factionalism in the Communist parties.
“The CPI(M) may not be a big force any more, but they are a big block before us in getting a foot-hold in a political state like Kerala. We have got clear directives to win over CPI(M) cadre. It can be through ideological debates, offers or any other means,’’ a senior member of the Kerala state BJP unit said.
According to this source, Amit Shah has taken up the challenge of winning over Kerala, which so far has refused to give any leg space to the BJP. “After winning the UP challenge in the Lok Sabha elections, Kerala is next on his agenda and he sees CPI(M) as a big stumbling block,’’ said a BJP leader, who is now focusing on the northern districts of Kerala. Incidentally, he is formerly a CPI(M) card-holder and one of the many BJP leaders who have been assigned the task of winning over CPI(M) workers. According to him, BJP leaders with a former DYFI or SFI background have been specially chosen for this assignment. “Our previous exposure to Communist ideology and terminologies help us to interact with the CPI(M) cadre better as we can talk in the same language,’’ he said.
Operation Red is giving special attention to win over key functionaries of the party like that of Branch Committee, Local committee and Area Committee. According to BJP leaders, defection of a local-level leader makes a greater impact than defection of a state-level leader, especially in the case of a cadre party.
The local-level CPI(M) leaders who are joining the BJP are being given better posts in the BJP state unit. Also, such defectors are readily made the active member of the party ignoring the norm that one needs to bring 100 members to become an active card holder of the BJP.
And the results of Operation Red are already showing. There have been a number of defections to the BJP, especially from the CPI(M) strongholds such as Kannur and Kasargod. As many as 200 CPI(M) cadre joined BJP in a function held at Neeleshwaram in Kasargod in June at a public function. They were mainly from the CPI(M) bastions of Madikai, Palayi, Kaithakadu and Bangalam.
Similarly, 97 members from Chala, a traditional CPI(M) belt in Thiruvannathapuram, defected to the BJP earlier. And it included one Chala Area Committee member and four Branch Committee members. Likewise, 350-odd CPI (M) loyalists in the Communist stronghold of Kannur had joined the BJP in a public rally earlier this year.
According to BJP leaders, what is helping them is the never-ending factionalism in the CPI(M). “Even with the ascent of Yechury, there is no end to it and the CPI(M) cadre is increasingly getting disillusioned. For a cadre, joining a mass party like Congress may be easier while joining BJP with which they had been having bloody fights is a bigger challenge. And every trained cadre likes challenges,’’ an RSS functionary, who is active in Kannur, said explaining the psychology behind the defections.
The RSS is of the opinion that getting one CPI(M) cadre is worth 100 Congress members as CPI(M) party workers are disciplined and ideologically driven. “The Communist and RSS ideologies may be totally opposite. But both ideologies instil discipline and commitment in a person and that is very important,’’ said the RSS functionary, who recently shifted base from Madhya Pradesh.
The BJP state unit is planning a big event in August, which the new members would be attending. The party is planning to give ideological orientation to the newly admitted members in that session. The venue is yet to be finalized.
“Our party president Amit Shah is likely to attend the function. We want to surprise him with the turn out,’’ said the state level leader.
This move assumes significance as the state is heading for local body polls this year and Assembly polls in 2016. The BJP vote share had gone up from 6.4 per cent to 10.8 per cent in the state in the last Lok Sabha elections and the party is trying hard to make its presence felt in the next round of elections. If that happens, the biggest loser, needless to say, would be the CPI(M) as was evident in the recent bypoll in Aruvikkara constituency.