The story of the BJP, as it unfolded in Kerala
It was in 1967 that a decision was made to hold the 14th national plenary session of Jan Sangh, which was the forerunner of the BJP, in Kerala. Shri Ram Babu Godbole was deputed to oversee the preparations. Despite it being a mammoth task, the event could be successfully conducted, thanks to the help of likeminded people and the national organisation. Besides delegates from Kerala, more than ten thousand representatives from other parts of the country participated in the programme. The session also made it to pages of history books as it was at this conference that Shri Deen Dayal Upadhyay was elevated as the national president of Jan Sangh.
In 1967, when E M S Namboothiripad was the Chief Minister of Kerala, there was an effort to form a new district by carving out parts of Palakkadu, Kozhikkode and Kannur. The basic intention was to form a Muslim majority district in Malabar, a communally motivated demand of the Indian Union Muslim league since the creation of Pakistan by partitioning India. During the partition, the Muslim League said that “mere creation of Pakistan is not sufficient; we want to create a ‘Mappilasthan’ in Malabar”.
The demand for creation of Malappuram district was in fact an attempt to form `Mappilasthan’. The Jan Sangh organised protests against the formation of Malappuram district on communal basis. Some Congress leaders like ‘Kerala Gandhi Shri K Kelappan and Shri Moidu Maulavi, another prominent Congress leader from Malabar, supported the Sangh. Revolutionary leader of communist movement in Kannur, Shri K P R Gopalan was another key supporter of the agitation. The agitation soon acquired a national character and All India leaders of the Jan Sangh joined the effort. Jan Sangh Volunteers from all over the country came to join the agitation. Madan Lal Khurana of Delhi and Bakhraj Vyas, who later became the national president of Jan Sangh were some of the prominent national leaders who participated in this move. They were all arrested, sentenced and imprisoned in Kannur jail.
In early 70’s there was food scarcity and there were restrictions on movement of good grains. Inter district movement was barred and so, check posts were put up by the communist government with the Congress backing the move. The Jan Sangh supported the farmers saying they must have the right to sell their products where ever they wanted to ensure that they got maximum return.
With the declaration of internal Emergency in 1975, severe censorship was imposed. Any agitation against the Emergency was banned. A Congress-CPI alliance government was in power in Kerala. There was a joined front of various opposition parties like the Jan Sangh, socialist parties and organisational congress (the left out section of the Congress after constitution of Indira Congress) was formed. There was a nationwide crackdown and all top leaders of Jan Sangh and RSS was arrested under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act). Prominent leaders like Shri O Rajagopal, Shri K G Marar, Smt Devaki Amma, Shri U Dathathreya Rao, Shri PK Vishnu Namboothiri were arrested for violating prohibitory orders. An agitation was organised at the national level to fight against the Emergency. Prof N P Manmadhan, the famous Sarvodaya leader and General Secretary of the Nair Service Society was heading the agitation. Thousands of protestors were arrested and many brutally beaten up. In Kerala, the Congress (I) and the Marxists had a secret deal. Accordingly, Communist leaders including EMS and A K Gopalan were let off and Sangh activists were kept under custody.