‘Will not allow any move to silence Bishop’: Kerala BJP chief tells HT
There is a concerted move to silence Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallaranghatt after he reeled out some “facts” about “narcotic jihad,” said Kerala Bharatiya Janata Party president K Surendran. In an interview with HT’s Ramesh Babu, he spoke at length about the latest controversy and the so-called appeasement politics. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q: After Pala Bishop’s controversial statement surfaced, the BJP was first to back him. The CPI (M) and the Congress say you are hijacking the issue for polarisation. Is it true?
A: When Pala Bishop said some facts based on his input from believers and experience, both Congress and CPI(M) quickly joined hands to attack him and there was also a move to isolate him. We will not allow this. We all know the fate of a college professor whose palm was chopped off by extremist forces for preparing a question paper. How can you crucify a religious head when he reeled out facts? Both are playing cheap vote bank politics and trying to bury facts. We have seen how police helped workers of the SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India), the political wing of Popular Front, to carry out a provocative rally outside the Bishop’s house. We feel it is our duty to support him.
Q: Love jihad and narcotic jihad, many say, are the creation of some right-wing groups. How far it is true?
A: It is a fact both exist in Kerala. The CM said he never heard about narcotic jihad but he’s feigning ignorance. Even world bodies like the United Nations said proceeds from the drug trade were diverted to terror activities. From Marad riots (a communal riot in 2002) and TP Chandrasekharan’s murder (a Marxist renegade who was killed in 2012), the unholy alliance between terror, smuggling and drug activities was quite clear. Kerala is fast becoming a nursery of terror activities and appeasement politics really help such elements. We all know how some women were converted and taken to the IS camps in Afghanistan. When the outgoing police chief said IS sleeper cells are there in the state, the CM quickly rebuffed him. You can’t feign ignorance always.
Q: The Congress alleges an understanding between your party and ruling CPI(M). It cites delay in the Lavalin case and the way gold smuggling case slowed down all of a sudden?
A: It is a baseless allegation. The party can’t do anything when a case is getting delayed in court. Lavalin graft case, in which the CM’s name allegedly cropped up, was deferred more than 20 times in the court. I think there is no slowing down or delay in gold or dollar smuggling cases. It is for concerned probe agencies to explain. In the recent assembly election, we have seen how the CPI(M) and Congress joined hands to defeat BJP candidates. Now, disgruntled Congress leaders are lining up to join the CPI(M).
Q: How do you evaluate Kerala’s government’s ongoing fight against the pandemic?
A: Statistics tell, I don’t have to tell more about it. For more than four months the state remains the pandemic capital. Every evening, the CM tells the state is number one in containing the disease. The state paid a heavy price for a cheap publicity stunt and is ignoring repeated warnings of the Centre. They hijacked many welfare measures of the Union government and renamed them.
Q: An often-heard complaint is that the state BJP is faction-ridden. How you are going to end this? And what are your plans to attract a vote base in the state?
A: Infighting is only the creation of media. Fed up with appeasement politics, many youths are turning to the party. When the BJP makes some inroads, major parties close their ranks to check it. They have a sole agenda to defeat BJP and for this, they don’t have any qualm in aligning with extremist elements also. The CPI(M) and Congress are ruling many local bodies with the help of the SDPI. They try to instil a fear psychosis among minority community members. But their trick will not succeed for long.