Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan once again urged the Congress to be part of a joint agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
He said the Muslim League was gradually finding merit in joining hands. “The Congress should follow suit,” the Chief Minister said while replying to the Motion of Thanks to the Governor's Address in the Assembly on Monday.
The Chief Minister said the country's very survival was at stake, and its Constitution was under threat. “If we can come together, the confidence it would give the people would be huge,” the Chief Minister said.
He said the first joint agitation against the CAA (on December 16) had been a huge success. “It was a small place where the joint agitation took place (at the Palayam Martyrs' Column, Thiruvananthapuram) but the message of unity that came out of it reached the whole of India,” the Chief Minister said.
He said an all-party meeting was convened after the Martyrs' Column agitation to chart out more such resistance measures. “The meeting had tasked both myself and the opposition leader to work out a strategy. Though we don't have any personal issues, we still could not work out anything after that,” the Chief Minister said.
Pinarayi was indirectly blaming Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran for what he termed the “sudden and surprising reluctance” of Congress leaders to be part of a joint agitation. Mullappally, a bitter critic of the CPM, was vehemently against Congress leaders sharing the dais with CPM leaders and had also succeeded in getting his stand approved by the Congress High Command.
Soon after, the CPM had singled out Mullappally for attack and praised leaders like Chennithala, A K Antony and Oommen Chandy for their non-partisan approach. This had embarrassed the State unit of the Congress so much that all the top leaders publicly came out in support of Mullappally's stand.
The opposition leader, however, corrected the Chief Minister's assertion that the Congress had chickened out of a joint agitation after the first show of unity. “It was after that we passed a joint resolution in the Parliament. And later when I suggested that we go to court against the CAA, you had agreed. So it is not true that we have not done anything together after the all-party meeting,” Chennithala said.
The opposition leader also hinted that the arbitrary ways of the CPM was also responsible for alienating the Congress. “It was when the joint agitation was on that the LDF announced the 'human chain'. We then announced the 'human map' programme. So, together and independently we had been protesting against the CAA,” Chennithala said.
The Chief Minister conceded that it was “understandably” difficult for the Congress to take part in an event like the human chain called by the LDF. However, he said a coming together across political boundaries was becoming increasingly important.
“I can also see that there is a slight easing in the stiff stand against a joint agitation,” the Chief Minister said. “I have heard voices supporting such a move from the Muslim League,” he said. Muslim League MLAs Abdu Rabb and K N A Khader, while taking part in the discussion on Governor's address, had spoken about the need for a joint agitation.
Pinarayi asked the Muslim League members to convince their “Congress friends” on the need for a joint front. “Till then, we will keep asking,” the Chief Minister said.