The CPM continues with its attempt to strike a political balance in the ‘narcotic jihad’ controversy. On the one hand, it is doing all it can to shield the Pala bishop from the charge of instigating communal hatred. At the same time, it is trying to spurn attempts to demonise the Muslim community.
On 17 September, CPM’s acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan said he did not believe that there were sinister motives behind the Pala bishop’s comments. “However, there were attempts to exploit the Bishop’s comments to divide the society on communal lines,” Vijayaraghavan said.
Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, while addressing the laity on the occasion of the eight-day lent observed in connection with the birth anniversary of St Mary on 8 September, said a section of the Muslim community was targeting Christian youth through ‘love’ and ‘narcotic’ jihad. He warned them of the hidden traps involved in befriending members from other communities.
A balanced approach was formulated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Initially, while talking to the media on 10 September, he was critical. Pinarayi had said he had no clue why the bishop had made such a statement.
Later, on 15 September, he said the Bishop had every right to highlight the dangers faced by his community but maintained that the term ‘narcotic jihad’ was improper.
The CPM’s acting secretary has gone a step further on 17 September and said that the term was not used with any dark intent. Political observers say the Indian National Congress (INC) initiative to patch up the differences between the minority communities, the urgent visits its leaders are paying top Christian spiritual leaders, has sort of forced the CPM to seem pro-Christian.
“Interestingly, none of the Indian National Congress (INC) leaders, be it V D Satheesan or even the seemingly conciliatory K Sudhakaran, have publicly given the Bishop a clean chit, the way BJP leaders or even senior CPM leaders like VN Vasavan have. Yet, they have somehow managed to give the impression that they could successfully mediate between communities,” a senior priest in the Syro-Malabar denomination said.
Given the situation, the ‘leak’ of an internal CPM document that speaks of both Muslim and Christian fundamentalism could not have come at a more opportune time for the party. On the face of it, the document seems harsh on minorities. In truth, the document is as please-all one. The document, which many observers believe was purposefully leaked, was yet another demonstration of the CPM’s desire to look progressive and still be acceptable to all sections of the society.
Almost echoing the ‘love jihad’ issue of the Hindu and Kerala Christian communities, the CPM document said that there were conscious attempts to lure girls in professional colleges to terrorism. It says that religious extremism has taken hold of a small section of the Christian community. Both these observations could be music to the ears of a section of the majority community that still finds the Hindutva brigade unpalatable but are uncomfortable with the perceived clout of Christian and Muslim outfits in the UDF.
Though it speaks of something similar to ‘love jihad’, the document is not a blanket attack on the Muslim community. It separates the large Muslim community from what it terms are the fanatics. Like it did during the elections, Jamaat-e-Islami has been targeted.
The CPM document says that the group has silently infiltrated Muslim organisations with the intention of establishing an Islamic Republic. It sounded like a warning to the unsuspecting Muslim community, not a critique.
Interestingly, there is no mention of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), another party that was branded fanatic by the CPM. Recently, the CPM had joined hands with the SDPI to pull down the UDF Council of the Erattupetta Municipality.
Even in the case of Christians, the CPM document says only a “very small section” has been compromised. Otherwise, there is glorious praise. It says the Christian community has never submitted to extreme ideas.