New Delhi: It is not easy for the BJP to conquer Kerala as the people of the state won't accept its communal ideology, CPI-M MLA and former health minister K K Shailaja has said.
During an interview to PTI ahead of the launch of her memoir "My Life as a Comrade: The Story of an Extraordinary Politician and the World That Shaped Her", she spoke in detail about her party's electoral prospects, her lead in the state's fight against Covid, the influence of her grandmother in her plunge into Left politics among other things.
Asked about the strong push by the BJP to make a foray into Kerala, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi's outreach to the state's Christians recently and his remark that Kerala will soon be under the BJP's kitty, she said, "It is not easy for the BJP to conquer Kerala."
The people of "Kerala rejected the BJP's communal ideology. It could not win a single seat in the last assembly elections", she said.
"We also as a party cannot allow the secular fabric of the state to get destroyed. Otherwise, the society will collapse," Shailaja, who is the MLA from Mattannur in Kannur district, said.
On the way forward for the party which once ruled West Bengal and Tripura for decades and is now holding on to its last bastion Kerala, she said, "We cannot give up. We have to fight."
"We are still strong in trade union movements and agriculture associations. We are not able to come to the forefront and take the lead like we did earlier as we do not have central representations as in previous occasions," she went on to add.
In the book, she writes, "The CPI(M) is the vanguard of the working class of the country. Its faith in democratic centralism and inner-party democracy ensures it is a strong and disciplined cadre-based organisation. This allows it to effectively mobilize the public through class and mass organisations."
Shailaja hoped that "the democratic front will unite and all anti-communalist parties join hands" to defeat the BJP.
"The Opposition should understand the danger the BJP poses to the country," she asserted.
In "My Life as a Comrade", co-written with Manju Sara Rajan and published by Juggernaut Books, she starts her story with the history of the Malabar region, her family, especially her grandmother, tracing the roots of communism in the state and in her district.
She also narrates how she got into politics, and what it was like to be a grassroots worker who steadily climbed the rungs. And then she talks of her own life, the sacrifices she had to make as a mother, how her husband had to take a back seat.
Shailaja, who was Kerala's health minister who handled both Nipah and COVID-19 crises, writes in detail about the challenges they posed.
She gives new insight into working with the bureaucracy, the relationship with the Centre and what it really took to manage the disease outbreaks. She also talks of the Kerala model and how the state has such high indices on health and education which they have achieved without extreme wealth.
"Kerala is a thickly populated state but we have an excellent public health system," she said.
"Tackling Nipah gave us valuable experience on how to control infectious diseases. We devised our own containment method much before central guidelines were issued. Thus, we were able to check the spread of coronavirus in the state to a large extent," she said.
Despite winning the elections and winning accolades as health minister, Shailaja did not figure in the LDF cabinet after the 2021 elections.
But, she says, she has never felt possessive about positions, or any circumstance of her life.
"Everything changes, and you must adapt. If I didn't adapt, I wouldn't be where I am today. I am an ordinary woman, but my philosophical roots are very strong. They are not shaken by the actions of others and the ebb and flow of politics," she writes in the book.
Shailaja is now focusing her attention entirely on party work and her constituency.
"I have spent my entire life in the district of Kannur. This region and people are the foundation of my personal and professional life. And there is so much to be done here."