Pro-Left Sastra Sahitya Parishad launches state-wide march, UDF leaders to be 'jatha captains'

Addressing the gathering, former Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru said that Article 51 of the Constitution gave every citizen of India the responsibility to create awareness on science : Special Arrangement

Kasaragod: The pro-Left organisation Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) launched the 'Kerala padayathra’ (Kerala march) on Friday. However, the participation of leaders belonging to the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) as ‘jatha (march) captains’ has sparked a political debate.

The march, which started from Kanhangad in Kasaragod district, will conclude at Thiruvananthapuram after 33 days, on February 28. On each day, the march will be led by a ‘jatha captain’. As per the programme, Congress leader M Liju will be the captain at Alappuzha on February 21 and UDF’s Member of Parliament (MP) N K Premachandran will lead the march at Kollam on February 26.

Thomas Isaac leads march
On the inaugural day, T M Thomas Isaac, the central committee member of the CPM, was the jatha captain and he led the march from Kanhangad to Cheruvathur.

Incidentally, the KSSP had earlier expressed its opposition to K-Rail, the ambitious semi-high speed railway project announced by the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala. The UDF leaders are expected to raise the K-Rail issue also in the march. Meanwhile, the KSSP recently announced that it still stuck to its earlier stand of opposing K-Rail.

Now, political observers are keenly awaiting the CPM leadership’s response to any criticism of K-Rail during the march.

At the same time, a large number of CPM leaders are also taking part in the KSSP programme and are ‘jatha captains.’

During a news conference conducted at Kanhangad before the start of the march, KSSP leaders made some statements criticising the LDF government. Apart from reiterating their opposition to K-Rail, the KSSP office-bearers expressed concern over the huge medicine sales and rising suicide rate in Kerala even as the state enjoyed good health and educational standards. The KSSP felt that Kerala could not carry forward its past achievements in several sectors.

Regarding the participation of UDF leaders in the march, the KSSP office-bearers said that anyone supporting the concepts of the organisation could join the programme. The KSSP leaders explained that the organisation did not follow any political party. “Congress leader V M Sudheeran had taken part in the ‘padayathra’ taken out by KSSP in 1990,” they pointed out.

“While a majority of KSSP members are supporters of Left parties, we have no enmity towards members of other political parties,” the KSSP office-bearers said.

Thomas Isaac, the ‘jatha captain’ on the first day, praised Kthe SSP for creating awareness on environmental issues in Kerala. He also expressed concern over the academic situation in the state. “Around 20 per cent of seats in colleges are vacant. Most students are eager to study and seek jobs abroad, for which they even pledge their houses to find money. This trend has almost become madness,” said Isaac.

“People who travel to the Gulf countries come back to Kerala after some time. But, those who head to the western nations never return,” he said.

Raise scientific temper’
The march was flagged off by former Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru. Addressing the gathering, Chandru said that Article 51 of the Constitution gave every citizen of India the responsibility to create awareness on science.

However, Chandru said that he was surprised over the observation of a judge in Gujarat that cow dung could block atomic radiation. “How could a judge speak against the Constitution?” he asked, and called for raising the scientific temper of common people.

He also said that KSSP was the inspiration for launching the Tamil Science Forum in Tamil Nadu. However, the human sacrifice incident at Pathanamthitta had shocked him, said Chandru.

KSSP state president B Ramesh presided over the inaugural function. Thomas Isaac delivered the keynote address. E Chandrasekharan MLA, C P Narayanan, Prof T P Kunhikannan, T K Sudhakaran, C M Vinayachandran, T Gangadharan, M Divakaran, M Raghavan Athiyamboor and Joji Kuttummal also spoke.

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