Kerala BJP leader Padmanabhan blasts party over anti-Muslim stand, Hindutva, more
Padmanabhan, commonly referred to as “CKP” by party workers, is no stranger to controversies. | File photo: Facebook/CK Padmanabhan

Kerala BJP leader Padmanabhan blasts party over anti-Muslim stand, Hindutva, more

“We must oppose terrorism, no doubt, but the Muslim community is an integral part of India’s nationality,” said the former Kerala BJP chief

In a major embarrassment to the BJP leadership, their national council member and former Kerala BJP unit president CK Padmanabhan has expressed grave concerns over the party’s anti-Muslim stance and interpretation of Hindutva.

In an interview to Media One TV, he said the BJP’s anti-Muslim rhetoric will only foster divisiveness and will not benefit the people of the country. On the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), he emphasised that no community should be excluded from consideration for citizenship.

Flays anti-Muslim sentiment

“No community should be excluded while granting citizenship. It is unfortunate that an air of anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise in the country lately. That won’t benefit our nation. While it may provide some fulfilment to the ‘perversion of a few emotionally-driven individuals’, it wouldn’t strengthen our social fabric or national harmony,” he warned.

“We must oppose terrorism, no doubt, but the Muslim community is an integral part of India’s nationality. That’s what I have understood. My Hindutva is in line with Swami Vivekananda’s and Sree Narayana Guru’s Hindutva.”

Indian constitution

“As an individual, I have observed and studied this. Pluralism is the beauty of our country, and our strength lies in our unity. Both must coexist. We should embrace this pluralism and unity together.”

He went on: “Modi has explicitly stated that our Bhagavad Gita is our constitution. I interpret this as referring to the existing constitution, not one that some believe may be introduced in the future,” said Padmanabhan, in response to a question about fears of a total overhaul of the constitution if the BJP is voted back to power in the Lok Sabha elections.

Padmaja Venugopal

The interview comes shortly after a controversy stirred by Padmanabhan expressing his discontent over the attention given to former Congress leader Padmaja Venugopal, who recently joined the BJP.

The other day, Padmanabhan made a public protest by refusing to stand up when Padmaja lit the lamp during the inauguration of an NDA convention in Kasargod. Although he attempted to downplay it by claiming it wasn’t a protest, he didn’t hold back while criticising newcomers, particularly from the Congress, flocking to the BJP.

Condemns BJP brass

“We had been working for a Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India) for some time, and thanks to the Congress itself, we had somewhat succeeded in it. But now people like me will have to campaign for a Congress-mukt BJP as fortune seekers from that party are knocking at our doors,” he said.

“We have many workers who tirelessly dedicated themselves to our party even when we were far from any position of power. It is disheartening to see these individuals being overshadowed by newcomers who once held power as our opponents. This could create dissatisfaction among our workers, and it is crucial for the party leadership to consider this and strike the right balance when selecting leaders for positions,” added the former BJP state president.

Changing values

“In the past, not many leaders in our party were willing to contest elections due to limited funds and resources. However, we had leaders like Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani who prioritised values above all else.”

“But times have changed, and so has politics. Now, the landscape is different, and it seems that value-based politics is giving way to power-based politics.”

2005 loss

The BJP veteran went on: “I have been contesting elections for the BJP since the 1987 assembly elections. I have seen the changes that take place. In 2005 when I was made the candidate for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha by-election, I was made a scapegoat,” he recalled.

In the 2005 election, CPI’s Pannian Raveendran emerged victorious while Padmanabhan, despite being a prominent figure in state politics, could not even save deposit, managing only 36,690 votes. This was immediately after O Rajagopal – who opted out of that contest -- had amassed a record 2,28,052 votes polled in 2004.

Fearless leader

Padmanabhan, commonly referred to as “CKP” by party workers, is no stranger to controversies. He gained attention in the past too for his vocal criticism of the flaws within the BJP.

Despite his strict adherence to party rules, he has managed to cultivate a substantial following within the Kerala unit of the party. His tendency to speak out against internal issues has often put him at odds with party leadership, creating tension within the ranks. While some view him as a disruptor, others appreciate his willingness to address uncomfortable truths.

BJP stays mum

He has been seen by many as a rare breed un the Hindu nationalist party who has some regard for the concept of secularism and harmony among communities.

The BJP leadership has taken a cautious approach by refraining from responding to Padmanabhan’s criticism, and no party leader had been willing to comment on whatever he has said.

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