CPI(M) goes ballistic over minority issues in Kerala; targets Jamaat-RSS bonhomie, CAA

CPI(M) goes ballistic over minority issues in Kerala; targets 'Jamaat-RSS bonhomie', CAA

“I am sure they will come at us again with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). We will need a strong chief minister to stop them.”

This was one of the catchphrases widely used by the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front during the 2021 elections in Kerala, a campaign that paid off big time resulting in its thumping win by securing almost 100 of the 140 seats in the state assembly.

Now, with the party’s first state-wide political campaign since MV Govindan took over as the secretary (‘Janakeeya Prathirodha Yatra’ or People’s Resistance March) under way, the communists have been raking up the issue once again in a calculated manner.

MV Govindan , during Peoples resistance March

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan set the tone straight away in his inaugural speech at Kasaragod on February 20 by batting for a string of minority issues including the CAA-NRC and triple talaq. He had set the platform even before this by putting out a social media post against the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind-RSS round table of January 14, questioning their very authority to represent the minorities in India.

Vijayan flays RSS

His scathing attack on the fringe but influential outfit for their closed-door meeting with the Sangh Parivar was cleverly aimed at the possible consolidation of the anti-Jamaat majority of the Muslim community, in Kerala – the Sunni factions.

Also read: ‘BJP has become destructive force’: Kerala CM Vijayan attacks Modi, Shah

“The Jamaat’s argument that the RSS is the kind of organisation that could be modernised and reformed through dialogues is analogous to hoping that a leopard could be transformed into a spotted deer by thorough washing,” read the chief ministers’ Facebook post days before the start of the march.

Vijayan was well-prepared and articulate for his grand showing as the saviour of minorities at the party’s state-wide campaign opening event where he arrayed a number of minority issues beginning with the triple talaq and moving on to the CAA-NRC.

“While divorces take place in all religions, why is it criminalised only for the Muslims? All other divorce cases are seen as civil matter in court. However, if it is a case of divorce between a Muslim couple, then the husband can be sent to jail,” the chief minister said.

Centre denounced

“The Centre used religion to decide citizenship through the Citizenship Amendment Act. We have already cleared our stand on it. We won’t implement it here at any cost. For a person following a certain religion, there is one law and for another there is another law. Can we say that we got our citizenship because we were born to a particular religion?” he said.

LDF poster calling for a strong chief minister to counter the CAA.

Then came the crucial part of the speech where he took the battle to the Jamaat. “For whom did Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) hold talks with the RSS? It could not have been for the minority community as the majority in our country is of a secular bent of mind and can see the communal agenda of the RSS. The stand taken by the Jamaat-e-Islami is not the position of other Muslim groups.”

During its course in the Muslim populated northern Kerala, the main theme of the People’s Resistance remains its staunch opposition to the Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva agenda.

“The RSS cares least about democracy, secularism, diversity in culture, language, religion or caste in our country. They have the agenda of making a constitution based on Manusmriti and implement it by their 100th anniversary. We cannot allow it to happen,” reiterated M V Govindan in his address at Perambra in Kozhikode.

Jamaat’s defence

JIH’s attempt to defend itself by accusing the CPI(M) leadership of Islamophobia did not get much traction as almost all the Muslim organisations have taken a stand against it in the issue.

Also read: Kerala Muslim community split over RSS meet with Jamaat leaders

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) seems to be well aware of the CPI(M)’s strategy and was quick to respond, putting the blame back on them, with party leader and former minister P K Kunhalikkutty accusing the CPI(M) of having tactical partnership with JIH till the recent past.

“For 42 years, the LDF enjoyed the support of the JIH. They teamed up with the JIH in many elections to defeat us. Right now, the Left is purposefully stirring up controversy over the JIH-RSS meeting and blaming the UDF for it. They want to draw attention away from the fuel cess and price increase. We must appreciate the brain behind the tactics, they know this campaign could skyrocket,” said Kunhalikkutty.

Congress on CPI(M)

“The CPI(M) has no sincerity, whatsoever in the anti CAA rhetoric, they use it as a poll ploy only. They didn’t even follow through on their promise to drop the cases involving the 2019 anti-CAA demonstrations,” said V T Balram, vice president of the KPCC.

The Left Democratic Front in Kerala has been consistently taking a pro-minority (read Muslim) post the Babri Masjid demolition. It has been proving successful in majority of the elections.

The LDF tasted the first victory of this ‘social engineering’ when a Dalit student leader, S. Sivaraman, won the Lok Sabha by-election in the erstwhile Ottappalam constituency caused by K R Narayanan’s resignation after being nominated as the Vice President in August 1992.

They followed it up by wresting the Guruvayur assembly seat from the IUML fielding film maker P T Kunhumohammed as an independent candidate in the byelection held in 1994. In 1996 also, the Left parties were beneficiaries of the insecurity of the Muslim community.

Also read: RSS ruling country giving scant regard to constitutional values: Vijayan

In the 2004 general election, the anti-minority statements made by former chief minister A K Antony played a major role in the routing of the Congress, which did not even win a single seat from Kerala. The only UDF member of parliament was E. Ahammed of the IUML. The LDF won 18 of the 20 seats with the Muslim voters consolidating behind them.

Left consolidation

In 2006 too, the Left parties repeated their performance, even though the Congress could come back in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009 and 2014, and the panchayat elections of 2010 and the 2011 assembly elections. But interestingly the LDF did not lose their ground totally in any of these elections as it put up a tight fight. From the local body elections in 2015, the tide again turned in favour of the Left, leading to massive victories.

The vote base of the LDF among the Muslim minority had been showing an upward trend for some years barring the glaring exception of 2019 when Rahul Gandhi himself decided to contest from Wayanad in Kerala.

The Congress-led UDF swept the state leaving the LDF with a single seat, Alappuzha. The minority consolidation due to the Rahul effect along with the Sabarimala fiasco undid the ruling coalition.

But the CPI(M) did its homework well enough to recover lost ground in the 2020 local body elections despite being on the backfoot with the controversy over the gold smuggling case. In 2021, it made an even bigger comeback thanks to the CAA-NRC issue. The Left leadership could play it to their advantage with Pinarayi Vijayan leading from the front making big statements against Modi, Amit Shah and co.

Also read: Kerala CM has become a laughing stock in state: Congress

Now with the opposition upping the ante over the imposition of additional taxes and cess, the CPI(M) is again trying to change the field of play by raking up minority issues.

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