Chidamabaram's criticism of Pala Bishop puts KPCC in a spot

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, Catholic Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt. Design: Onmanorama

Kochi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram's remarks on Catholic Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, who recently made the controversial love and narcotic jihad statement, put the Congress party in Kerala in a spot on Sunday with the KPCC seeking to distance itself from the veteran's statement.

The catholic community, which is a major support base of the Congress in Kerala was upset with the party following the initial criticism against Kallarangatt by its state leaders including Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan.

Sensing danger, the party has been recently trying to resolve issues with the church and the state leaders have taken initiative to reach out to the influential clergy.

Chidambaram on Sunday said the 'narcotic jihad' remark made by Pala Bishop  reveals the "warped thinking" and the intention was to 'provoke' distrust and communal conflict between religions.

Chidambaram, a Rajya Sabha member, said 'love jihad' was a monster 'invented' by the Hindu radical right to 'terrorise' young men and women. A secular nation must stamp out such fanaticism whether it is expressed in words or deeds or through subtle means of discrimination, he said.

The Pala bishop had said that Christian girls were falling prey to what he claimed was 'love and narcotic jihad' in Kerala and that wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth. 

"Love jihad was a monster invented by the Hindu radical right to terrorise young men and women. Narcotic jihad is the new monster, and it pains me and millions of Indians that an ordained bishop, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala, should be its author. 

While love' and narcotics' are real, to attach the word jihad to love (a natural human emotion) and to narcotics (an analgesia and an addictive drug) reveals warped thinking," Chidambaram said in an article published in the website of a national daily.

He said there was no evidence that Islam was "expansionist" in India and "mass conversion to Islam is a lie".

"The intention is clear. It is to provoke distrust and communal conflict between followers of a religion (Hinduism or Christianity) on the one hand and Islam on the other. Islam is the other' and Muslims are the other' people to fanatics. A secular nation must stamp out such fanaticism whether it is expressed in words or deeds or through subtle means of discrimination," the former Union Minister said.

In his article, Chidambaram praised Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, saying "he has read the riot act to the Bishop" and also said he was "gladder that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr V D Satheesan has supported the CM's statement that the government will be unsparing against those who propagate such false theories."

However, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) distanced itself from the statements of Chidambaram and said it would have been appropriate if the state unit deals with such issues in the state.

"We don't know on what basis Chidambaram made such remarks. We have not contacted him. This is something that has happened in Kerala and it's the Congress party in the state that should comment on such issues.  We don't have any responsibility to comment on something which someone had said somewhere," KPCC chief K Sudhakaran told the media here when asked about Chidambaram's article.

Chidambaram also attacked the BJP which had backed the Bishop over his controversial remarks and said those who talk mischievously about narcotic jihad should ponder over the unprecedented haul of 3,000 kg of heroin which was attempted to be 'imported' through a port in Gujarat.

"Those who talk mischievously about narcotic jihad should ponder over the unprecedented haul of 3,000 kg of heroin (that is three tonnes!) seized by the authorities when it was attempted to be imported' through a port in Gujarat. I can say with authority that no one would have dared to import' such a humongous quantity unless he/she (a couple  not Muslims  have been apprehended) enjoyed official patronage at a fairly high level," Chidambaram said.

He asked the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to deprecate talk of jihad, love or narcotic. 

"They should also comment on the seizure of 3,000 kg of heroin. These are issues that have serious consequences for the internal security and social harmony of the country," Chidambaram added.

Vijayan had on September 21 rejected outright the comments made by the Bishop, saying the southern state is a firm terrain of secularism and the society would take strong stand against those who try to upset it.

Satheesan too had criticised the statement of Pala Bishop and said the statement has has crossed the limits.

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