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The Hindu
The Hindu
G Anand

Modi highlights spat between Congress and CPI(M) in Kerala

For the second consecutive day on Saturday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress clashed over how voters in Kerala would interpret the Enforcement Directorate’s “puzzling disinterest” in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the bully pulpit of his high office to spotlight the “fratricidal regional spat” between the INDIA bloc allies at a public rally in Maharashtra.

In an apparent nod to the dispute between the Congress and the CPI(M) in Kerala, Mr. Modi told a rally in Maharashtra that INDIA bloc allies were contesting against each other in 25% of the Lok Sabha seats in India. He claimed the infighting and name-calling would worsen after the poll results were out on June 4.

The INDIA bloc wanted to prevent the BJP from benefiting from seat adjustments or anti-incumbency factors in Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, and other non-BJP-ruled States. Hence, it perceived that a three-pronged battle in regions such as Kerala would dwindle BJP’s chances.

The ruling front and the Opposition were acutely aware that any let-up in skirmishing would arguably advantage the BJP in the State.

Moreover, the fierce jockeying between the Congress and the CPI(M) to control the Lok Sabha campaign narrative seemed calibrated to push the BJP into the penumbra of Kerala’s political picture.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) and the Congress seemed focussed on trying to outdo each other in ripping open old wounds.

Campaigning in Thiruvananthapuram, Priyanka Gandhi revisited old sore points between the Congress and the CPI(M) by attempting to tie Mr. Vijayan to past controversies, including gold smuggling and LIFE Mission corruption.

Ms. Gandhi enraged the CPI(M) by asking why central agencies gave Mr. Vijayan a wide berth, which is the Congress’s steady campaign refrain. She suggested the “reprieve” was a quid pro quo for Mr. Vijayan’s incessant attacks on Mr. Gandhi.

LDF convener E.P. Jayarajan riposted harshly by asking the Congress why central agencies had not arrested Mr. Gandhi in the National Herald corruption case.

Mr. Vijayan repeated his accusation that Priyanka Gandhi’s husband had escaped the CBI prosecution by purchasing electoral bonds worth ₹170 crore in the BJP’s favour.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters in Alappuzha that public sentiment would harden in LDF’s favour whenever the Congress goaded the BJP to arrest Mr. Vijayan for no apparent reason.

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