Adivasi Leader CK Janu’s Misadventure with the BJP in Kerala
By Abu Thahir P
BJP’s effort to popularize the Hindutva ideology appears to be a herculean task in Kerala, where they have never been in power. Despite Vellapalli Nateshan’s tactics of creating communal disharmony, the presidentship of Kummanam Rajesh and, lastly, Amit Shah’s magic of inducting Sreesanth as its Kerala face, the public sentiment is not in BJP’s favor.
Recently, CK Janu, the indomitable leader of the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, who took initiatives for redistribution of land among the landless tribal people in Kerala and led the ‘build huts’ struggles in 2001, has confounded friends and foes alike by opting to contest the Assembly elections as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. It’s ironic that her promising journey ends with her candidature in Sultan Batheri, where she would strive to saffronise Kerala. No matter whether she wins or not, she would be seen as one of the politicians trying to encourage Hindutva chauvinism in Kerala. Moreover, BJP is not in a position to confer any great benefit on Janu or the adivasis.
CK Janu was born in1970 in Chekkote, a hamlet in Wayanad district, into a family of five children. This highland area on the border of Kerala, Tamil nadu and Karnataka is mainly populated by adivasis. Janu’s parents were agricultural labourers, having a painful history of servitude to the landlords that was similar to that of the Pulayar and Parayar of the plains area. She received no formal education and learned to read and write only at seventeen with the help of literacy mission. Her autobiographical testimony, Mother Forest, is a thought-provoking narrative of her growing up years.
BJP’s effort to rope in CK Janu is an attempt to incorporate the tribal community into the frameworks of Hindutva agenda. This is in continuation of its policy of having succeeded in similar attempts in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, where the party has seen quantum jump in their political fortune. As a result, opportunist political fronts have bred a form of deceptive politics.
At a critical juncture, when the Dalit scholar, Rohit Vemula, has been institutionally murdered at the University of Hyderabad, resulting from the anti-dalit political games played by the ABVP goons and the university authorities, a tribal leader joining the BJP is a matter of great joy for the party.
CK Janu said, “The applauses and national recognitions that Gothra Maha Sabha won were the fruits of its activities, which continue for about 25 years. In spite of these achievements of the tribal community, they gained nothing in life. It is worse than olden days; without power and sovereignty, we can do nothing. Achieving power is important. What’s the point in being a bystander?”
She narrates adivasi life experiences and the harsh realities of their life: “As far as I am concerned, the life-span of the Paniyar community is only about 40 years. I It is our duty to bestow them at least a little relief in their short life span. And the only way to snatch that freedom is to protest, and not be silent. The Right and Left wings are not much concerned about our right; they confine us to the vote and our identity. What they want are votes, not individuals; they never tried to search for our inner minds and unity. They dragged us to the dirty politics. It’s been about 70 long years after achieving independence but still we are in the shackles of enslavement and the servitude of inhumane politicians. Since we fought for our very existence through the ‘build huts’ struggles of 2001 and Muthanga struggle, both parties showed no concerns for us.”
While answering a question about her old alliance with the CPI(M) in an interview of Rekharaj (2008), she revealed her very dissatisfaction with the party since it exploited the adivasis for their own vote-bank and never intervened in the socio-economic realities of their life. It seems dangerous that a leader like CK Janu learnt nothing from her past experiences and plunged into another big trap laid by the Hidutva fascist forces. It appears impossible that she is ever going to be a great savior of the Adivasi community in future because her life itself is full of paradoxes.
These events remind us of the fictional character of Dr. Faustus, who ruined himself by practicing black magic, which paved the way for the greatest tragedy. Here CK Janu’s actions appear to be similar. In an interview with Azhimukham regarding the candidature from Sultan Batheri, she justified it by saying, “nothing to worry about taking any assistance; it is not an exceptional case even if a devil offers it. We should utilize it. We can think about the rest later. We have to think and what we have to do is to intervene and not stand aside.” Her statement reminds us of Shakespeare’s famous line: “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” The ‘fair’ seems to her as ‘ugly’ and the ‘foul’ as ‘beautiful’.
We will wait to see how the Hindutva fascist ideology helps adivasis in Kerala. It appears that this bonhomie between the BJP and Janu will only provide her with some promotions in her very late political life. In this context, the proclamation of the Maha Sabha leader, M. Geethanandan, is very relevant. He says, “Gothra Maha Sabha is not part of this election and the decisions she made is very personal and condemnable by any means. Since no discussions happened within the premises of the Maha Sabha regarding her political entry and also there are strong disputes among the members, this is all about her personal promotions and not for a political cause.” He further added, “Once she comes to the public for this election, I would be compelled to campaign publicly against her.”
Abu Thahir is pursuing MA in English literature at MANUU, Hyderabad. He takes an avid delight in all genres of art, especially in poetry. Abu is interested in the areas of dalit literature and is now looking for a research program.
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