Thiruvananthapuram: Even after the Indian Union Muslim League reluctantly turned down the invite, the CPM has kept the doors open for the UDF constituent to take part in the Palestine Solidarity Rally that the party will organise in Kozhikode on November 11.
Now that the IUML leaders have ruled out their presence, the CPM state secretary M V Govindan hopes that at least “League workers” who want to express their anger at the Israeli “butchery” would take part. In an obvious attempt to alienate the League ideologically from the Congress, the CPM state secretary branded the Congress as a party with both Zionist and Hindutva leanings.
It was not just for the League the CPM has kept the doors of its Palestine Solidarity rally open. The CPM has also issued an open invite to Aryadan Shoukath and “innumerable other Congressmen who share Shoukath’s sentiment” to attend the CPM’s pro-Palestine rally.
KPCC general secretary Aryadan Shoukath had organised a Palestine Solidarity rally in Malappuram in defiance of the Congress diktat. The party has rejected Shoukath’s explanation and his case has been sent to the party Ethics Committee for disciplinary action.
The decision to keep the invite open for League “workers” and Congress rebels was taken during the CPM State Secretariat and State Committee meetings held on Sunday. Govindan used the reason given by the IUML to turn down the CPM invite and also the Shoukath affair to frame the Congress as anti-Palestine and bracket it along with the BJP.
“The Muslim League said that they could not attend for technical reasons. But it was clear as daylight that they were interested, that we had their support,” Govindan told reporters after the CPM State Committee meeting on Sunday. He suggested that the Congress, like a tyrannical coalition partner, was smothering the political instincts of the League on an issue that required the world to stand up against the fascist and imperialist designs of Israel and America.
“The technical reason they (IUML) referred to is the restriction the Congress has put on them. The technicality is that the League could not even take part in a mass movement against imperialism,” he said. “It is clear that the Congress is not interested in the Palestinian cause,” Govindan added.
He said the Congress’s anti-Palestine approach was further affirmed by its action against Aryadan Shoukath. “Aryadan's Palestine Solidarity programme was organised by the Aryadan Mohammad Foundation, which is not part of the Congress. This shows that the Congress is intolerant of even an event organised in support of the Palestinian people by an independent foundation. Shoukath’s action is seen as an act of indiscipline. The KPCC has even decided to take disciplinary action,” the CPM state secretary said.
It is in this context he said that the CPM had no qualms in inviting Shoukath and “innumerable Congressmen in Kerala who share Shoukath’s sentiment”.
Perhaps in anticipation of the Congress argument that the party had always stood with the Palestine people, Govindan acknowledged that the party, right from the national movement, was firmly behind Palestine. “The Congress had even observed a Palestine Day in 1936,” he said. “The pro-Palestine stand adopted by Gandhi and Nehru was continued up till the time of Rajiv Gandhi. It was during Narasimha Rao's time that India established diplomatic ties with Israel,” the CPM leader said.
Govindan said that Shashi Tharoor’s remarks at the Muslim League Solidarity Rally in Kozhikode on October 26 was not an aberration. “It was one of a piece with the Congress approach,” he said.
Even while stating that Israel's response to the Hamas attack was disproportionate, Tharoor had remarked during the League rally that the Hamas were terrorists who killed innocent women and children. Otherwise, right through the speech, Tharoor's emphasis was on the suffering of Palestinians and how historically India had unwaveringly stood for the Palestinian cause. Tharoor’s remarks had caused serious discomfort for the Muslim League, a sentiment the CPM is now trying to exploit.
Govindan also attempted to argue that the Congress was no different from the BJP, not only in its pro-Israel stand but also in its inclination for a soft Hindutva line.
Congress’s former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s recent comments came in handy. Nath said in an interview that the BJP could not appropriate credit for the Ram Temple at Ayodhya as it was Rajiv Gandhi who had opened the locks of the makeshift Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site. “This makes it amply clear that the Congress wants to persist with its soft Hindutva approach,” Govindan said.