The BJP’s celebrations following a second consecutive electoral win in Kerala’s Palakkad town earlier this week has led to a police case against party workers who unfurled huge posters with religious slogans on the municipality building. Much political drama has followed since the December 16 incident, with alleged Leftists today unfurling the Tricolour over the same structure in an apparent retaliation.
The police filed a case against “identifiable people” late Thursday night after the Palakkad Municipal Secretary filed a complaint. “We have filed an FIR under 153 IPC based on the complaint of the Municipal Secretary, who is also a government official,” Palakkad Police Chief Sujithdas S told NDTV. Section 153 pertains to provocation with the intent to cause a riot.
The BJP won the Palakkad Municipal election on December 16, its second consecutive win in the town amid a larger Left sweep across Kerala in the state local body polls held on December 8, 10, and 14. The party won a clear majority this time: 28 of the total 52 seats in the municipality. In 2015, it was the single largest party with 24 seats.
A group of BJP supporters climbed on to the top of the Palakkad municipal building and unveiled multiple giant posters across the structure’s front face. One of the posters carried the party’s signature “Jai Shri Ram” slogan, inexplicably with a picture of Maratha king Shivaji. Another poster featured Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
A video of the incident, which, according to the police, took place on counting day, went viral in local social media circles, sparking a controversy. What aggravated the issue was BJP spokesperson Sandeep Varier’s celebratory Facebook post, in which he claimed “Palakkad town was Kerala’s Gujarat”.
“This has not been done with the knowledge of the BJP leadership. We don’t know who did it. But I am not apologetic. Nothing wrong with it,” Palakkad BJP District President, Advocate Krishna Das E, told NDTV.
“How is chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ hurting religious sentiments? Thousands of workers were celebrating our victory…If we don’t chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in India, do we then do so in Pakistan? This complaint will not have any legal standing,” Palakkad BJP District President, Advocate Krishna Das E, told NDTV.
Today, some members of the Left-affiliated Democratic Youth Federation of India enacted the BJP’s original one by unfurling the Indian national flag on the same municipal building and raising slogans against the RSS and in favour of secularism.