The unique protest by Thalavoor Grama Panchayat councillor and local BJP leader, C Ranjit stems from reported incidents where individuals dressed in black attire faced challenges approaching the Chief Minister’s events. It is claimed that the police, along with the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activists and the Chief Minister’s security personnel, have been preventing those in black from getting close to Vijayan’s public programs.
The use of black clothing has become a form of dissent in Kerala, with protesters adopting it as a symbol against the government. However, these reports suggest that the authorities, including the police, have restricted the presence of individuals wearing black attire during the Chief Minister’s events.
The protester, C Ranjit, chose the unusual method of painting himself entirely in white to highlight the perceived suppression of dissenting voices. This act is seen as a creative and symbolic expression of protest against the alleged curbing of freedom of expression and assembly.
Critics have pointed to instances during the COVID-19 pandemic where even a media woman was reportedly asked by the police to remove her black mask while covering the Chief Minister’s program. Additionally, there were claims of the arrest of two transgender activists who were dressed in black when attempting to approach the venue of the Chief Minister’s event in Kochi.
Even though CM said that there was no such restrictions, police personnel reportedly did not stop it.
Now, the entire cabinet is travelling to all 140 assembly constituencies in connection with the much publicised Nava Kerala Sadas of the CPM-led Left Democratic Front government. Several places witnessed DYFI and CPM attacks against the black flag protests of Youth Congress workers. In one incident, they were attacked by DYFI men with plant pots, iron rod and helmets. In another incident, CM’s gunman jumped out of the vehicle, which accompanied the luxury bus carrying the entire cabinet to all constituencies, and beat the black flag protesters brutally. Even a physically challenged man was brutally attacked. But, in all cases, CM justified the attacks. He said, Youth Congress men came as suicide squads and CPM men saved them hence it was a rescue operation. About the attack of the gunman, CM said, he did not see it. Even after nearly a week, still all Malayalam TV channels keep on telecasting the visuals of the gunman’s ‘performance’.
Here is the relevance and significance of Ranjith’s ‘white protest’. He even painted a steel chair white to sit on the wayside when the cabinet vehicle passes by. And he was arrested and kept under custody for the whole day.
Renjit had hit the headlines some time back when he protested against the continuous increase in electricity charges in the state. He opted to pay the coins of Rs 7,000 as the electricity charges for nine consumers in his Panchayat ward. The idea was to air his protest by creating inconveniences to the Electricity Board officials.
Renjit told the media that God had created him with a black complexion and he wears a black dress, but, the CM, ’king’ according to Renjit, does not like black colour hence he painted his body and dress in white. He said, he did not do it as a protest but, due to his desire to live harmoniously in the state.
Even though Renjith’s action looks sarcastic, it throws light on the current political situation in the state.
C Ranjit’s out-of-the-box protest aims to draw attention to the challenges faced by dissenting voices and individuals expressing their views through symbolic attire in Kerala, particularly during public appearances of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.