Narcotic jihad row: CPM accuses BJP of dividing people on communal lines

Thiruvananthapuram: Amid raging debate over controversial "narcotic jihad" remarks by Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala diocese, Kerala's ruling CPM on Tuesday accused the BJP of trying to reap political benefits by dividing people on communal lines and said no one should make any offensive references to break the communal peace and harmony in the State.

"No statement should be made by anyone that would create religious polarisation in the society. People of Kerala longs for communal harmony & peace. No one should make any offensive reference to break that harmony. BJP is trying to communally exploit the issue," acting secretary of CPM in Kerala, A Vijayaraghavan, said in a tweet.

Although he did not mention "narcotic jihad" in his statement, it came after the opposition Congress accused the state government of remaining "a mute spectator" over the issue and the BJP used the Bishop's statement to target both the Congress and CPM, alleging that they were adopting a soft approach towards religious extremist groups creating trouble in the state.

After meeting the Bishop in Pala yesterday, BJP national executive member P K Krishnadas had alleged that the Congress and the CPM were taking a position in favour of extremist elements creating trouble in society, instead of addressing the issue raised by the senior Catholic priest.

Responding to Leader of Opposition (LoP) V D Satheesan's allegations that the CPM had joined hands with Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), a political offshoot of Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), to unseat the UDF administration in Erattupetta municipal council in Kottayam district, Vijayaraghavan said the Congress had tied-up with communal parties like Jamaat-e-Islami to garner their votes in the Assembly polls held in April this year.

"Congress has no moral basis to criticise the government in this matter. They contested the last assembly elections by garnering the votes of communal parties like Jamaat-e-Islami. Even the LoP got elected to the Assembly, after enjoying such advantages", the CPM leader said.

Earlier in the day, Satheesan urged the state government to convene an all-party meeting to find a "permanent solution" to end the row over the 'narcotic jihad' remark by the Bishop and accused it of remaining a "mute spectator" while both the Christian and Muslim communities were heading towards a conflict.

A group of people, who was not at all a party in the matter, were indulging in hate campaign in the social media platforms to add fuel to the fire and thus disrupt communal harmony in the southern state, Satheesan said here.

However, the Left government was doing nothing to end the conflict and remaining a mute spectator, he alleged.

The Opposition leader urged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to go through the social media posts on the 'narcotic jihad' remark by the Catholic priest and asked what his government, intelligence department and the cyber cell of the police were doing when vested interests were trying to trigger communal clashes over it.

Stating that the Congress had taken a strong stand in the issue to prevent clashes between the two communities, he said they would support any government endeavour to end the tension.

"The government should be ready to convene an all party meeting, participating all leaders concerned from both the communities, and find a permanent solution in the issue. There are those who are waiting to use the opportunity to burn Kerala down to ashes. We repeatedly request everyone not to fall into their trap," he added.

The BJP, which had supported the Bishop on the controversial remark, also brought the attention of the Christian community to the recent political tie-up between the CPM-led Left Democratic Front and the SDPI in the Erattupetta Municipality and tried to establish that the LDF and the CPM would extend support to extremist groups.

BJP state Chief K Surendran alleged that the SDPI councillors in the Erattupetta Municipality were the ones who had taken out a violent protest march towards the Bishop House over his 'narcotic jihad' remark and the CPM's decision to foster a political tie-up with them was its "arrogance" towards the "suppressed Christian community" in the state.

The LDF had toppled the UDF-led council of the Erattupetta Municipality with the support of the SDPI members and a Congress councillor, who turned hostile, on Monday.

"The Marxist party is now moving towards a public political tie-up with the SDPI. The collaboration is a grave threat to the secular stand adopted by the state. The CPM has joined hands with the anti-national forces for political gains. It is anti-democratic," he told reporters in Palakkad.

He asked how the Left party, which always preaches about secularism, could collaborate with a group which had allegedly triggered several communal clashes in the southern state.

"The Christian community and the secular mindset in Kerala should discuss this," Surendran said, adding that the 'narcotic jihad' was a usage mentioned in many conferences of the United Nations as 'narcotic terrorism' and it was not a new issue.

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