An interfaith marriage of a leader of the ruling CPI(M)’s youth wing DYFI has stirred up a political storm in Kerala after the relatives of the Christian bride alleged “love jihad” with a senior Left leader supporting the charge.
A section of the Christian community in Thiruvambady, including nuns, took out demonstrations against the alleged ‘love jihad’, in connection with the incident.
As the issue snowballed into a major controversy, the senior leader retracted his statement and the CPM made it clear on Wednesday that there was nothing unnatural in interfaith marriages and the campaign of ‘love jihad’ was a creation of RSS and Sangh Parivar.
Attacking the CPI(M) over the ‘love jihad’ issue, senior BJP leader and Union Minister V Muraleedhaaran said that the Left party’s “hypocrisy on the matter was exposed once again”.
Relatives of Jyotsna Mary Joseph, a nurse in Saudi Arabia, hurled ‘love jihad’ allegations, after she recently walked out on her family and married Shejin, a local DYFI leader belonging to the Muslim community, without their consent.
A statement issued by the CPI(M) district secretariat member George M Thomas supporting the allegations of ‘love jihad’ on Tuesday added more fuel to the row. It triggered an intense social media campaign by a section of people against the ruling party.
However, the CPI(M) district leadership intervened and made Thomas issue a clarification.
‘Love jihad’ is a term used by the right-wing outfits to claim that Muslim men lure women from other faiths to convert them into Islam.
Denouncing Thomas’ remarks, P Mohanan, CPI(M) Kozhikode district secretary, said his party has never referred to inter-religious marriages as ‘love jihad’.
“Love Jihad is a term used by the RSS and Sangh forces to attack religious minorities. The CPI(M) has already made its stand clear on the topic. Marriage is the choice of individuals and the legal system of the country permits adults to get married according to their choice,” Mohanan told reporters.
Mohanan said that Thomas’ controversial remark supporting the love jihad charges should be seen as a slip of the tongue and the former MLA was also convinced of the mistake.
Mohanan also said that the DYFI leader could have informed the party leadership about the marriage plan and avoided unwanted controversy.
Meanwhile, the newly-married couple denied the allegations by Jyotsna’s relatives.
Addressing reporters in Alappuzha, where the couple is presently staying, Jyotsna said that she has all the freedom to stick to her religion till her death.
Shejin clarified that the marriage is a natural culmination of their love affair and the controversy was unnecessary.
Retracting his earlier stance, George M Thomas told media on Wednesday that his words were conveniently twisted by communal forces to suit their version of inter-religious marriage as love jihad.
Thomas maintained that he endorsed his party’s stand on love marriages. “However, the marriage has hurt the sentiments of the Christian community,” the left leader claimed.
The CPI(M) district leadership is organising an explanation meeting at Kodencherry on Wednesday evening as the controversy over the wedding refused to die down, despite the couple denying love jihad charges.
Meanwhile, Muraleedharan said in New Delhi that the CPI(M) leaders and workers, who had insulted Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt over his ‘love jihad’ remark recently, are now remaining silent over their own party man’s comments on the issue, which reveals the Marxist Party’s “hypocrisy”.
“When the Catholic bishop had claimed that love jihad exists in the state, the police registered a case against him but when a CPI(M) leader said the same, the Marxist Party is terming it as a slip of tongue,” Muraleedharan said.
“Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had described Bishop Kallarangatt using abusive words in many venues. When a CPI (M) leader himself saying now that the love jihad exists, the CM should clarify his position on the matter,” the minister added.
(With inputs from Agencies)