‘Not against religion’: CPI(M) begins outreach for LS polls
Political experts say the move is aimed at Parliament elections as in 2019 Lok Sabha polls the party could manage only a single seat out of 20 and Sabarimala unrest was cited as the prime reason for the rout
For the Communist Party of India (Marxist), religion has remained an anathema for several years but now the party is in a hurry to embrace “faith-friendly image” to keep its foothold in its last fort — Kerala.
The party even started a door-to-door campaign on New Year day telling people that it is not against religion and has “no plan to impose rationalist policies either”. Party state secretary M V Govindan during his house visit to the state capital on Sunday said that the party is “not against any religion or faith.”
Party members, from the politburo (highest body) to local committee, have been meeting people to discuss their issues during the 21-day-long house visits.
Political experts say the move is aimed at Parliament elections as in 2019 Lok Sabha polls the party could manage only a single seat out of 20 and Sabarimala unrest was cited as the prime reason for the rout. Desperate to keep its national player status, the party is heavily depending on the southern state.
The party admits that some forces are trying to wean believers away from it.
“Our party is not against any religion or faith. And we have no idea to impose rationalist polices also. The party and government are moving ahead by taking people along. But some forces are spreading a wrong notion that we promote rationalism,” said M V Govindan during his house visit in the state capital.
The party is also giving a clear message to minority communities that if the Bharatiya Janata Party returns to power in 2024 “India will turn into a Hindu Rashtra in no time.”
“The Sangh Parivar is implementing its policies one after the other. In 2025, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is celebrating its 100th anniversary and plans to turn the country into a Hindu Rashtra by then. If BJP gets power for another term in 2024 democracy... secularism will cease to exist,” said Govindan.
“The CPI(M) is inflicting a fear among minority community members to garner votes. Neck-deep in debt, coupled with nepotism and mis-governance, the party is diverting attention blaming the union government,” said BJP leader S Suresh.
He added that secular bodies should stand together to fight such forces.
In Kerala minority communities, Muslims and Christians, form more than 45% of the population, according to the 2011 census.
In Kozhikode, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan also asked all secular outfits on Sunday to stand together “to fight the fascist forces”.
“The Sangh Parivar ideology is being implemented through governance in many parts of the country. Each sector is being encroached upon. Kerala is an exception because we stand by secularism,” Vijayan said while speaking at the concluding session of Mujahid conference.
He added that all secular parties “should come together to fight a larger enemy and minor differences should not come in their way”.
Political analysts said that the CPI(M) has started its preparation for 2024 LS elections much early to avoid repeating the experience of 2019. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s possible re-election from Wayanad and BJP’s “relatively better performance” in five parliament seats last time is also a cause of concern for the party. At least in five seats BJP, gave a tough three-cornered fight and its candidates got more than two-three lakh votes.
“The party knows how to play the minority and majority cards well. What (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is doing in Delhi, Vijayan is doing in Kerala,” said political observer and writer Umesh Babu.
But opposition Congress and BJP criticised the ruling party for its new-found love for believers. “Four years passed since the Sabarimala agitation and many believers still face cases. The CPI(M) will go to any extent to garner votes but people are not fools,” said BJP state president K Surendran.
However, Opposition leader V D Satheesan said that the BJP and CPI(M) were “thick friends in Delhi” and that is why many cases against party leaders including the gold smuggling case were brushed under the carpet. “The chief minister is playing a double role... in Kerala he is a critic of the BJP but in Delhi both are close friends. People will not fall for this dirty game,” he said.