Cong placates Kerala ally Muslim League over Priyanka Gandhi’s Ram temple endorsement
The Congress party heaved a sigh of relief after the Muslim League, one of its oldest allies, diluted its tough position on general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s statement lauding Ram temple construction and limited its criticism to terming it “inappropriate and untimely” in a party resolution passed on Wednesday.
The resolution passed in an emergency meeting of the League’s executive committee in Malappuram also asked Congress leaders not to dilute their secular credentials. In her tweet Priyanka had said “boomipoojan” will be “an occasion for national unity, fraternity and cultural congregation.”
“The Congress is a secular party. We are upset with statements of some of its leaders including that of Priyanka Gandhi, which we feel are inappropriate and untimely,” said the resolution. The League has also asked its leaders not to air their opinions freely on this issue.
Many senior Congress leaders including AICC general secretary K C Venugopal had called Muslim League leaders not to take any hasty decision when assembly elections are only nine months away.
After Priyanka Gandhi’s statement, party’s senior leader E T Mohammad Basheer MP had expressed reservations. State Congress leaders were in a piquant situation after the ruling CPI(M) and others taunted the League to explain its position on the contentious issue. A worried Congress was forced to seek intervention of the party high command to cool tempers within the League ranks.
“The League is a trusted partner of the UDF. Any attempt to create a wedge will not succeed,” said former chief minister Oommen Chandy, who enjoys a good rapport with the League leadership. League leader P K Kuhalikutty also shared this view later.
The League has been a part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) since the coalition was formed in late seventies. But before this, it was in the left camp and shared power in the second EMS Namboodiripad ministry in 1967.
Eying the minority vote bank, the CPI(M) has been wooing unhappy League leaders for quite some time. The party has accommodated many erstwhile League leaders including former MP T K Hamsa and state higher education minister in the Pinarayi government, K T Jaleel.
The temple issue had caused a split in the League after the demolition of Babri Masjid when senior leader Sulaiman Sait and others walked out of the party questioning its alliance with the Congress.
A moderate face in Kerala, the party lost some of its ground to fundamentalist outfits after the masjid demolition but later bounced back. After the Congress, it is the second biggest party in the UDF with two MPs in Lok Sabha from the state.
“The party will have to prevail over hardliners so it called an emergency meeting to cool tempers. Otherwise the party has good equations with the Congress leadership,” said political observer Sunnkutty Abraham.