What Godse did literally, Congress has done symbolically: CM

Calling an unprecedented press conference in the course of an Assembly session on Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held up two recent incidents to accuse the UDF, and especially Opposition Leader V D Satheesan, of "undemocratic and intolerant" behaviour.

The first instance was what the chief minister termed the baffling behaviour of the UDF in the Assembly on Monday. "The Question Hour was disrupted fully. No one in the opposition has said why. It is usual for the leadership to explain what prompted their behaviour," the chief minister said.

Then, the chief minister said the person (Wayanad's Congress MLA I C Balakrishnan) who moved the adjournment motion in the Assembly on the attack on Rahul Gandhi's office was nowhere to be found when Speaker M B Rajesh was about to take up his motion for consideration. "They know that when such an issue is raised inside the Assembly, the government would come up with a response. They wanted to avoid the reply at any cost. This seems to be the only reason for adopting such an anti-democratic stand," the chief minister said.

He said such disruptive tactics were one of a piece with the Congress party's larger devious political scheme of creating a violent atmosphere in Kerala.

Satheesan's fury and CM's poser

The second incident happened two days ago, on June 25. This related to Opposition Leader V D Satheesan's outburst at a journalist during a press conference the Congress had convened in Wayanad. "It was the first time someone in Kerala had issued a threat to a journalist saying he would be thrown out of the hall. Soon after this, we could hear a party functionary threatening to chop off the hands of journalists," the chief minister said.

Satheesan was irritated by a question regarding the destruction of Mahatma Gandhi's photograph inside Rahul Gandhi's office. It seemed Satheesan presumed that the poser came from a journalist of Deshabhimani or Kairali, both considered CPM mouthpieces. An apparently furious Satheesan was heard telling the journalist to go put the question to Pinarayi Vijayan. "Behave or you will be thrown out," Satheesan was heard saying.

The chief minister on Monday asked what was wrong with the journalist's poser to Satheesan. Even while conceding that what the SFI did was wrong, Vijayan said it was not the SFI members who pulled down the picture of Mahatma Gandhi from the wall. He said that prominent channels that entered Rahul Gandhi's office after the SFI had left had telecast pictures from within the office.

"In these, the picture of Mahatma Gandhi is on the wall. Then who threw down the picture? After the journalists left, only the Congress men were left inside the office," Vijayan said and added: "What Godse did literally, the Congress has done symbolically."

Tale of two political cultures

The chief minister also found great democratic virtue in the CPM's response to the SFI attack on Rahul Gandhi's office. "We did not think twice about condemning the incident and initiated strict legal and penal proceedings. The State Committee, the government and the central leadership of the party were unanimous in condemning the incident," he said.

Vijayan said the Congress's show of outrage is a big sham. "If even after we had firmly condemned the incident, the Congress was attempting to create trouble it can only mean that it is using this as an opportunity to indulge in organised criminal activities like wanton destruction of property across Kerala. It is as if they are happy this happened," the chief minister said.

If the CPM was acting responsibly by deploring wrong tendencies shown by elements within the Left, the chief minister said the Congress was encouraging disruptive elements within their fold. "When engineering student Dheeraj died, the most important functionary of the Congress had said it was a death he had begged for," he said, and added: "Has any one in the Congress condemned the action of Youth Congress men inside a plane?"

Gujarat riots and Congress

The chief minister also brushed aside the Congress charge that the CPM was keen to humour the BJP leadership. Vijayan said the Congress response to the arrests of social activist Teesta Setalvad and former Gujarat cadre IPS officer R B Sreekumar would show how the Congress was doing all it can to please the BJP. The two were held on charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery and other Sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Vijayan quoted Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi. "We have heard of the arrest. It appears to be in relation to alleged offences of forgery and fabrication arising out of events that took place between the years immediately following 2002. Furthermore, it stands to reason that the Congress as a political party cannot comment on the merits of a case with which it has no connection."

On the other hand, the chief minister said the CPM called for the withdrawal of arrests. He said the Politburo of the CPM had issued a statement condemning the arrest of Teesta Setalvad who fought relentlessly for justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat violence. "We said that her arrest is an ominous threat to all democratic minded citizens not to dare to question the role of the State or the government under whose regime communal violence takes place," the chief minister said.

He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had not even once bothered to visit Zakia Jafri, the widow of the slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafi who was killed in the Gujarat riots of 2002. "The brain centres of the Congress advised her not to visit Zakia because such a visit will cost the party soft hindutva votes," Vijayan said.

He said these reactions also throw light on the different political cultures of the CPM and the Congress.

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