On Tuesday, BJP president Amit Shah kicked off a grand Jan Raksha Yatra in Kerala's Kannur to protest against and "expose" Communist Party of India (Marxist). BJP has alleged that as many as 120 BJP workers have been killed in Kerala since 2001 and holds CPI (M) responsible for it. 

The Jan Raksha Yatra, held under the theme of 'All have to live! Against Jihadi-Red Terror', from Payyannur will travel through the state before ending in Thiruvananthapuram on October 17. 

While the party may pitch it as a genuine concern, it seems BJP has a larger game plan in mind. With 2019 elections approaching, Amit Shah's big focus is on the states where the BJP has never been in power. And for BJP, Kerala has always been a tough nut to crack. Now with the saffron party challenging the dominion of the Left on its turf, a war of words and political tussle was imminent, to say the least. 

What are the leaders saying?

The BJP

Just a day before the rally, Union human resource minister Prakash Javadekar took a dig at the party saying, “CPM has become Communist Party of Maoists.''

On Tuesday, Amit Shah started the rally with a powerful speech saying that with the dawn of Left rule in Kerala, political violence has also risen. He questioned human rights activists who maintain silence over such political killings.

Shah also came down heavily on chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying he is responsible for most of the political murders in north Kerala.

“Since the LDF government came to power 13 of our workers got killed. Some of the gory murders took place in CM’s own constituency. He is answerable for these killings,” he said.

The CPI (M)

Vijayan hit back at Shah and said the Communist movement will not budge in the face of such “flamboyance” or “troop movement” by the Sangh Parivar. 

Calling the rally, a “damp squib”, he further said Kerala has nothing to learn from a party that considers Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as God, reported The Indian Express.

Brinda Karat too slammed the BJP and said, “Manufacturing of lies is flourishing under PM Modi and Amit Shah.” 

“The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not the victim, in fact a large number of CPI(M) cadres have been killed by the RSS. It wants to intimidate those who stand up against its terror tactics and communal hatred,” she alleged.

Yogi Adityanath too joined the rally

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday also joined BJP's 15-day foot march rally clearly indicating that BJP is trying to use the Uttar Pradesh template in the southern state.

Adityanath said the rally intends to show a mirror to the governments of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura, who speak of democracy but in reality believe in violence. He also accused the Left party of promoting “jihadi terrorism” and said it was its nature to “grab power at gunpoint”, as per Hindustan Times.

"Political killings are taking place in the state. Especially, the way the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and RSS workers are being targeted, we are here to create awareness in the regard...We, through this initiative, want that these governments repent and introspect their deeds and stop violence. Killings of innocent people should stop," said Adityanath.

Hitting back at BJP and RSS, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the cycle of violence was started by the BJP, the day assembly election results were announced in Kerala last year.

The CPI(M) has also put up a ‘Fact Sheet on RSS/BJP Violence in Kerala’ on Twitter, stating that in Kerala, it is the CPI(M) and other constituents of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) that have been at the receiving end of the ‘murderous attacks’ mounted by the RSS and its outfits.

 He even tweeted that that BJP did not stand a chance at winning the Kerala assembly.

CPIM Kerala State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged the rally is aimed at disrupting the peace and harmony in the state. 

He said the whole Kerala march is a ploy to deflect attention from the growing public anger and discontent over the Narendra Modi government’s performance.

The war of words had started way before the rally

Even before Adityanath had arrived in Kerala, the CPI(M) had taken to social media to invite the UP CM to Kerala hospitals to "learn to run hospitals effectively".

In fact, the Chief Ministers of both the states had been targeting each other since news emerged about Yogi Adityanath's travel to Kerala. Here's how Vijayan took on his Uttar Pradesh counterpart 

The Kerala Chief Minister and CPI (M) also reminded him about Uttar Pradesh's track record in health.

Eighteen other union ministers are set to spend one day each taking part in the rally. Let's see what more jibes come up.