The BJP’s attempt to make inroads into Kerala with its ‘Jana Raksha Yatra’ (Save the People March) has come a cropper. Apart from low turnouts and infighting within the BJP State unit which prompted the party’s all India President Amit Shah to return to Delhi mid-way, a massive torrent of jokes and humorous memes aimed at the Hindutva outfit sent the BJP running for cover.
The yatra, led by BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan and launched by Amit Shah on 3 October, is scheduled to go on till 16 October. Amit Shah had announced that he would himself lead the yatra to Pinarayi in Kannur district, the village of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 5 October. But Shah left the State without joining the planned march, which even led to the coining of a new term – “Amittadi” – in Malayalam to refer to the act of escaping without completing some task.
The memes, most of them published and circulated in massively popular Malayalam humour platforms on the social media such as International Chalu Union, Troll Republic, and Troll Malayalam, took pot-shots at various aspects and developments related to the march.
Here is a selection of the super-hit memes on the BJP’s march that took the Malayalam cyberspace by storm, translated into English by the Newsclick team.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath joining the march was perhaps the single most important incident which triggered the humour mills and gave rise to the highest number of memes.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan himself joined in the satire fest, with a thinly veiled jibe: "Shri Yogi Adityanath, I am happy that you found the time to intervene in the issues of Kerala although there is a massive heap of problems in your own State."
Many memes – somewhat inaccurately called “trolls” in the Malayalam cyberspace – highlighted the failure of the BJP and other parties which have ruled Uttar Pradesh in ensuring education, health, and sanitation for the people of the State.
Yogi’s remark that Kerala should learn UP how to manage hospitals was met with a flood of memes.
Many memes sought to bring attention to the large proportion of houses in UP without toilets in comparison with Kerala which was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) on 1 November 2016.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan himself had mocked the BJP during a press conference. "We hear that some ministers from the centre are coming here. It would be good if all of them travel in Kerala. They can see the natural beauty of Kerala. They can see the things Kerala has, distinct from other States. During the yatra, when they feel the urge to pee, there is no need to do so out in the open in Kerala. They can do it in a toilet in some house nearby. BJP leaders will understand that there are toilets in all houses in Kerala while travelling here. The prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas are being raised for building toilets, it is claimed. Toilets have already been built in Kerala. So it would be good if at least the people here are saved from the petroleum price hike," he said.
The BJP had reportedly brought hired workers from outside Kerala to tide over the problem of low turnouts in its march, which became the subject of many memes.
There was even an incident of hired workers in the procession, clearly not knowing what the march is all about, raising the slogan “Jai Jai CPM”. The video of the sloganeering went viral on the social media, and were also immortalised in a large number of memes.
With gaffe after gaffe on its part, the BJP was left singularly powerless to counter the jokes aimed at it, an act which the Malayalis revelled in with gusto.