Kannur: After threatening to take his fight into Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan's hometown, BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday failed to turn up here to lead a state-wide yatra he had kicked off two days earlier.
But hundreds of Bharatiya Janata Party activists marched through Pinarayi town waving party flags and shouting slogans on the third day of the "Jana Raksha Yatra" that is meant to highlight CPM "atrocities" on BJP and RSS cadres.
The BJP had accused the CPM of calling for a virtual shutdown in the area as the yatra passes by and most shops downed shutters. The Pinarayi village in particular looks to be in a virtual campaign war with posters of the CPM and the BJP, accusing one another of violence, vying for space in every nook and corner.
The BJP said Shah had been called to Delhi by prime minister Naredra Modi. But the CPM alleged he was scared of foraying into CPM stronghold Pinarayi town, where a Marxist-sponsored 'bandh' led to the closure of most shops.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Shah was scared to walk through Pinarayi.
"BJP leaders had claimed that Shah was a 'lion' and a determined person. But today it is proved that Shah is a lion without any teeth. Also, Shah has realized the yatra has failed to evoke any response," he said.
In Shah's absence, the protest was led by state BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran, who said he himself was enough to take the battle into the chief minister's hometown and that Shah's presence was not necessary.
Shah had walked on Tuesday from Payanur in Kannur district with a huge crowd of BJP activists and promised to return on Thursday.
The earlier plan was that Shah would walk nine kilometers on Thursday and address a public meeting at Tellichery.
The Kerala-wide campaign, a show of strength by the BJP and RSS, is to end on October 17 in the state capital.
The CPM, which heads Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front, on Thursday observed a shutdown in Pinarayi town.
All through the route of the BJP 'yatra' in and around Pinarayi, the CPM put up pictures of its members alleged murdered by the BJP and RSS activists.
Several pictures of Pinarayi also came up along the route.
A BJP spokesperson told IANS that the 'yatra' passed Pinarayi town on Thursday. And though shops remained closed in the area, there was a "good crowd turnout", the spokesperson said.