In what looked like a statesmanlike approach, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sought to bottle up the communal genie that seems to have been let loose by the Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt's 'narcotic jihad' remark.
He ruled out a police case against the Bishop for having made such a comment and even said community leaders like the Bishop had the right to raise issues that affected their communities. However, Pinarayi said the only problem with the Bishop's comment was that his remark attempted to link a serious social issue to a particular community.
Even while pointing out that the 'narcotic jihad' usage was improper, Pinarayi also made it clear that he would not do anything that would widen the communal fissures. “The need of the hour is to prevent such issues from flaring up to provocative levels,” Pinarayi said. He also said that the fraternal bonds among communities were so strong that issues could be easily resolved through talks.
He hinted that Kerala was not fertile ground for communal forces to implement their agenda. In a clear reference to the BJP, he said: "It is true that there are other forces at work but they don't have prominence. As a society, Kerala wants secularism preserved."
Once again, the Chief Minister reiterated that he had not heard the word 'narcotic jihad'. “Of course, I have heard of 'narcotic mafia'. Such a mafia is active all over the world. In certain parts of the world, such groups are powerful than even governments. It is not as if anyone here or elsewhere is ignorant of such a mafia,” he said. “But a mafia should be seen as a mafia. It should not be given the insignia of religion,” he said.
Pinarayi said his argument with the term 'narcotic jihad' was that it stamped a social evil with a religious symbol. This was why he said the term was new to him. He has also taken the Pala Bishop's clarification at face value. “The Bishop himself has said that he had no intention of creating a communal divide and that he was only trying to warn his community of a certain evil,” the Chief Minister said.
Pinarayi also did not want to read much into Jose K Mani's support for the Bishop, a stand that was generally seen as a contradiction of the LDF principles. He neither endorsed nor rebuked Mani's stand. He felt that the Christian community had every right to air its grievances. The only problem was that while articulating the concern, the Bishop had given it a religious angle that hurt the sentiments of a particular community. Jose K Mani, the Chief Minister said, was only supporting the cause that the Bishop was attempting to highlight.
Though Mani had not said this, the Chief Minister was suggesting that the KC(M) leader did not back the part of the Bishop's comment that hurt the Muslim community.