BJP candidate offers tributes at Left's Punnapara memorial, triggers row

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Alappuzha (Ker), Mar 19 (PTI) A controversy erupted in Kerala on Friday after a BJP candidate paid floral tributes at the famous Punnapra Vayalar Smriti memorial, jointly managed by the CPI(M) and the CPI, ahead of filing his nomination papers from Alappuzha assembly seat for the April 6 polls.

The memorial at Valiya Chudukadu here was built in memory of Communists killed during their movement against the 'misrule' of Sir C P Ramaswami Iyer, the prime minister of erstwhile Princely state of Travancore in 1946.

Sandeep Vachaspati, the BJP nominee, paid floral tributes and allegedly raised 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' slogan at the place.

The Left parties condemned Vachaspati's act, accusing him of 'trespassing' into the memorial and aiming to 'humiliate' hundreds of Communist party members martyred during the uprising, while a police complaint was lodged against him by the CPI disitrict secretary.

Vachaspati defended his act and alleged the memorial was the symbol of 'biggest betrayal by the Communist leaders who had fled the scene after putting their innocent followers belonging to the Scheduled Castes and backward communities to face the guns of the Army.

The BJP candidate said he visited the place to pay tributes to those 'innocent souls' before filing his nomination.

Condemning the incident, CPI(M) candidate from Alappuzha constituency P P Chittaranjan said the monument was a symbol of greatest martyrdom of people who had laid down their lives for the freedom of the nation and the 'deliberate act' of the BJP candidate was 'aimed at subotaging the peaceful electioneering process.' He said the Punnapra Vayalar uprising was part of India's freedom struggle and the BJP candidate 'humiliated' the martyrs.

Hitting out at Vachaspati, the CPI(M) leader alleged the BJP candidate was 'following the footstpes of RSS, which had no role in India's freedom struggle'.

CPI District Secretary T J Anjalose filed a complaint with the police against Vachaspati for 'trespassing' the memorial.

The movement, started under the leadership of undivided Communist Party of India (CPI), is named after two of the places involved--Punnapra and Vayalar--two villages in Alappuzha district.

C P Ramaswamy Iyer, who had opposed Travancore joining the Indian union, was forced to leave the kingdom as a result of the uprising in Punnapra Vayalar.

The Communists have said that hundreds were massacred by the military and henchmen of Travancore rulers in alliance with British imperialists in Punnapra Vayalar. PTI TGB VS VS