Kasaragod's LDF candidate posts Islamophobic video to target Unnithan, deletes after uproar

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The video was shared on the Facebook pages of LDF candidate M V Balakrishnan and CPM District Secretary in-charge C H Kunhambu.

Kasaragod: The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), which has been actively seeking Muslim votes in the Lok Sabha election in Kerala, has painted itself in a corner by releasing an out-and-out Islamophobic campaign video in Kasaragod.

The 1.15-minute video, ostensibly targetting Congress MP and UDF candidate Rajmohan Unnithan, painted the people of Thalangara as close-minded and hostile towards symbols of other religions and cultures. Thalangara in Kasaragod town is a densely populated area, where the majority of residents are Muslims. Malik Dinar -- one of the first Muslims to come to India to propagate Islam -- is interred at Thalangara.

The video was shared on the Facebook pages of LDF candidate in Kasaragod constituency CPM leader M V Balakrishnan and CPM District Secretary in-charge and Udma MLA C H Kunhambu. LDF distanced itself from the video and deleted it from the Facebook pages. But the damage has been done.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the Congress and constituent of the United Democratic Front, has called for a night march and protest from Thalangara Nusrath Nagar to Dinar Nagar at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 17.

Balakrishnan, who took out a night march in the same area protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the early days of the campaign, said he was not aware of the video or the content of it on his Facebook page.

"The mandalam committee has made a special team (to manage my social media). They are the ones doing this. I had no clue about the video. I swear on my children. Totally reckless. What else should I say," Balakrishnan told Onmanorama. "If the content of the video is what you are saying, it cannot be justified," said Balakrishnan.

The mandalam committee has made a special team (to manage my social media). They are the ones doing this. I had no clue about the video. I swear on my children. Totally reckless. What else should I say.

M V Balakrishnan, LDF candidate, Kasaragod

Will anyone try to create a controversy during an election... This goes against common sense, he said. "I will tell them that nothing should go on my page without my knowledge," Balakrishnan said.

LDF's Kasaragod campaign manager K P Satheesh Chandran, who lost to Unnithan in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, said Unnithan may approach the Chief Electoral Officer if he is aggrieved by the video. "He will stand exposed because he is the one who wiped his tilak," he said.

Satheesh Chandran, however, said the video was not LDF's official production and neither the candidate nor the MLA has shared it. "Anyone can make and share videos on social media. LDF has nothing to do with it," he said. LDF's official video, cleared by the collector, would be out on Thursday, April 18, he said.

The controversial video starts with a candidate, purported to be UDF's Rajmohan Unnithan, asking his team of three members: "Where is today's first reception?" A team member says: Thalangara. All four people in the video look at one another, sending out a non-verbal message of what has to be done.

One man takes out a pair of scissors from his sling bag and the candidate stretches his right arm. The sacred thread around the wrist is cut. Then the man wipes off the sacred tilak on the candidate's forehead. Then, the candidate raises his arms as if he is surrendering, and his team member takes his mundu off and wraps it back with the pleats on the left side, the way Muslim men in Kerala usually wear.

"When I first saw the video, I thought it was brought out by the RSS-BJP camp," Unnithan told Onmanorama. "When I checked, it was uploaded on Balakrishnan Master's Facebook page. I was shocked," he said. The video was on the LDF candidate's page for nine hours, said the UDF camp.

The CPM painted Kasaragod's Muslim voters, particularly those living in Thalangara, as communal, he said.

Unnithan said the LDF first attacked him accusing him of not standing up for the Muslim community during the CAA protest. "When they could not alienate the Muslim voters from me, they brought out this video to pander to the Hindu voters. Sick mind," he said.

The CPM is trying to communalise every issue because it has no achievement to go to the people, he said. "Look at the plight of a party aspiring to save its national status," Unnithan said. The Kasaragod MP alleged the CPM spent Rs 50,000 to bring out the video.

IUML's District President Kallatra Mahin said the BJP was there to divide people based on their religions. "If the CPM wants to stoop to that level, it is better the party merges with the BJP," he said.

Udma MLA and CPM State Committee member Kunhambu, whose Facebook page also had the video, did not respond to calls.

IUML's Udma Assembly constituency general secretary K B Mohammed Kunhi said Thalangara is not a place that measures a person by his cap, sandalwood tilak, race, religion, and caste. "Thalangara is the resting place of a great person who taught us to embrace all humans," he said. Politics is fine but not at the cost of demeaning a community, he said.

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