Francis Kalathunkal on the movement against Adani’s port project | lokmarg

Vizhinjam Project Has Exposed The Opportunistic Face Of CPM

Francis Kalathunkal on the movement against Adani’s port project | lokmarg

Francis Kalathunkal, a member of the Vizhinjam Civil Society Solidarity Forum, alleges that the Kerala Govt has joined hands with RSS to quell protests against the port

The protest against the Vizhinjam Port Project has been halted after nearly 140 days of struggle. This is a temporary pause. The main reason was due to some unfortunate incidents on November 26 and 27 at Mullor and Vizhinjam after which more than 3,000 people were booked under non-bailable offenses. TVM Arch Bishop was named as the first accused.

This project was notified during the UDF government led by Oommen Chandy. At that time the CPM had opposed this project calling it against the fishermen and people. When LDF came to power, Adani directly visited the AKG Centre, the state central office of the CPM. After this, the CPM changed its view and said the project will be helpful for the development. The state propaganda machinery swung into action after that.

The affected people mostly belong to a Latin Catholic congregation. When these people shared their agonies and apprehensions with the clergy, the Church came forward and organized the necessary steps. Initially, it was not a secular forum. But later, the Church realized that until this movement was not secular, the government will be able to paint it as a vested interest. The responsible media also helped build up the movement.

The government initially tried to cold-shoulder it, but as the protests began garnering massive support, especially from the 284 families living in cement godowns for the last five years, the government took note of it. The government brought this issue to a single-judge bench of the High Court which allowed the government to proceed with the construction. It also allowed the use of police force to control the protests. But the government developed cold feet when the Opposition lapped it up to nail the Pinarayi govt.

ALSO READ: ‘Vizhinjam Handiwork of a Callous Politico-Industrial Nexus’

It then played a dirty trick by joining hands with the RSS to create a counter-movement. Till then, the protests were peaceful and effective; the demonstrators had blocked the road to disallow any construction material from entering the port area. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Vishwa Hindu Parishad rallies emerged in support of the port. It was an unusual marriage of convenience. But it completely exposed the opportunistic face of CPM.

It sent a clear message that in the name of development policy, CPM is not averse to joining hands with the BJP. The progressive façade of CPM was laid bare. The Opposition too tried to wash its hands of the incident. Now, the Church, for its secular stand, has gained support from a larger section of society. The solidarity front organized meetings and rallies in almost all districts of Kerala. That also was disturbing for the government. They realized that they cannot democratically handle the movement. So they resorted to unethical means.

CPM instigated violence and created a situation where all democratic forms of struggle could be suppressed. Nowhere was violence done by protestors. A section of the people was under the impression that violence was started by the fishermen’s community. This created cleavage in the movement. The Church felt it was wise to temporarily halt the struggle. But it does not mean that agitation is over.  

(The narrator is a retired Assistant Professor from KRG College of Engineering)

Read more:

As told to Abhishek Srivastava

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