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Shashi Tharoor Lauds Pinarayi Vijayan's Hindi Outreach, BJP Says it Shows Kerala CM's Desperation

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor felt that the Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was smart in his move to reach out to people who did not speak Malayalam.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:August 15, 2017, 11:20 AM IST
Shashi Tharoor Lauds Pinarayi Vijayan's Hindi Outreach, BJP Says it Shows Kerala CM's Desperation
Hours before his Independence Day speech, the PM Narendra Modi received a ‘Model Nikahnama’ from All India Women Personal Law Board, which gives women the option to do away with triple talaq. (Image: PIB India/Twitter)

KARNATAKA – and a few others – has barricaded itself with the language shield as a belligerent BJP bulldozes its way into states ruled by Opposition parties. But neighboring Kerala – a Left-ruled state that the RSS-BJP war machine is trying to conquer riding on recent incidents of political violence – is charting a different path by proactively reaching out to the Hindi-speaking public.

And that’s earning state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan plaudits from the unlikeliest of quarters: principal Opposition in the state, the Congress.

Last week, RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale had done a rare press conference – protesting the killing of an RSS worker in Thiruvananthapuram allegedly by CPM cadre – that made the BJP send finance minister Arun Jaitley to visit the slain activist's home. A few days later the Government of Kerala came up with an ad blitzkrieg in Hindi newspapers.

‘Kya Banata Hai Kerala Ko No.1?’ asked Kerala CM Vijayan in the ads as well as on social media. The CM has gone all out on a 360-degree campaign to portray Kerala with all its positives, subtly ignoring the attacks on the ruling LDF government over the spate of political killings in the state.

Vijayan has also taken to posting on Twitter, from his official CM Office handle (https://twitter.com/CMOKerala) in Hindi.

Highlighting the state being the best in law and order, its status as the least corrupt in various surveys, best in governance, and first in human development Vijayan has taken very aggressively to Twitter and Facebook. As part of the 360-degree campaign, the CM’s office is also running full-page advertisements in leading Hindi and English dailies.

Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor was one of the first politicians to laud Vijayan’s efforts through a Facebook post.

“This entire image that is being created about Kerala as ‘Godforsaken country’ and it being a carnage-ridden battleground is absolutely absurd and damaging to the state,” Tharoor told News18.

He was pointing to the RSS-BJP campaign against CPM that had peaked since the political murder in his constituency, which saw BJP MP from New Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi refer to Kerala as “Godforsaken country” in Parliament.

Tharoor felt that the CM was smart in his move to reach out to people who did not speak Malayalam.

“The CM himself is not fluent in Hindi, but I think his step of reaching out to people who did not speak Malayalam sends out a strong positive message. It’s his attempt in showcasing that the violence being reported is very localized and poses no harm to people who want to visit the state or would like to invest in it,” Tharoor said.

So is it all part of a new strategy by the Kerala Government?

“Nothing of that sort,” says John Brittas, media advisor to CM Pinarayi Vijayan and MD of the pro-CPM Kairali TV Network. He calls it a “plan of action”, that was adopted in the face of the RSS-BJP campaign against the state.

“The propaganda was such that even reputed national networks were blindly parroting the RSS line, and Kerala was portrayed as a conflict-zone like Kashmir. So it was absolutely essential for us to counter this and retain the trust of people who deal with Kerala,” said Brittas, adding that it will take two decades for other BJP-ruled states to match Kerala’s human development indices.

“All those Central leaders sent by the BJP high command have returned to Delhi convinced that everything is normal in Kerala. I am sure they will return soon as tourists,” he quipped.

The BJP Kerala unit would have none of it and dismissed the Hindi outreach programme of Pinarayi Vijayan as a desperate damage control measure by the Kerala Government.

“An offensive has been unleashed by BJP and RSS on the political killings in the state. For the first time, the nation’s attention has been focused on Kerala. It has somewhat changed the perception that people had about Kerala being a peaceful state,” said V Muraleedharan, BJP national executive member and former state president.

The chief minister, he added, has been forced to defend himself. “Unless he is able to put his point of view, it'll be a loss of face for him at the national level. The campaign run by him and his government is a strategy in that regard,” he told News18.

Meanwhile, the language outreach from Thiruvananthapuram seems to be on a steady path. A few days ago, the CM took to Tamil after the death of a migrant worker from Tirunelveli following a bike accident. The ambulance carrying Murugan had taken him to six hospitals all of which refused to take him citing various reasons; his family alleged the hospitals refused him because they feared he couldn’t pay for it.

Through his Facebook post Pinarayi apologized to his family for the conduct of the Kerala hospitals and assured the government would bring in a new legislation to ensure such incidents doesn’t recur.

| Edited by: Puja Menon
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