How CPM’s two election ads were used to mock at party’s secular claims

Najeeb Kanthapuram MLA shows the photostats of newspaper advertisements, given by the CPM during the Lok Sabha polls, during an Assembly session on June 20. Photo: Screengrab/SabhaTV

Muslim polarisation that was engineered by the Congress and Muslim League with the help of "fundamentalist elements" like Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI was one of the reasons CPM state secretary M V Govindan cited for the massive drubbing his party suffered in the Lok Sabha polls in Kerala.

"The UDF might have gained in the short term but this will have far-reaching consequences for secular-minded Kerala," Govindan said after the State Committee meeting on June 20. "Many people with a secular outlook, both in the majority and minority communities, do not politically approve of this (the UDF's pact with Muslim communal forces)," he said.

Almost at the same time that day, and just a few feet away from the CPM headquarters where Govindan was warning Kerala about the dangers of thinking on communal lines, Muslim League’s Perinthalmanna MLA Najeeb Kanthapuram was busy dismantling the CPM claims of being secularism's only functional suicide squad. Kanthapuram was participating in a budget discussion in the Assembly.

He called the attention of the House to two advertisements that appeared in two newspapers on April 25, a day before the polls. It was the day of silent campaign. The catchword was the same for both the advertisements, but the content was different.

"As part of the silent campaign, I visited a house. The house subscribes to Suprabhatham daily (the mouthpiece of Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama)," he said. Holding up the photostat copy of the first full-page ad, Kanthapuram said: "In this there is the picture of a beautiful Muslim girl in a maftah. And beneath is the caption: 'For India to exist the Left has to be alive' (Idathundenkile Indiayulloo)," he said.

Then he took the photostat of the second one. "From the house I went to a convent in Perinthalmanna town. It was Deepika daily that I found in the dining hall of the convent. But in this, the maftha-clad girl was gone. The catchword was the same but the ad spoke of communal violence in Manipur. It shows images of destroyed Christian churches," Kanthapuram said.

He held the two ads in both his hands and asked the CPM members: "Were these done by you or by PR agencies? If this was done by a PR agency I would not fault you because it would have been an agency that had worked for BJP in North India.”

Now, he wanted to know what the CPM intended by giving out contrasting ads. "What have you thought of Muslims in Kerala? Do you think that we would be happy to see churches in Manipur destroyed? And do you think Christians in Kerala would feel delighted when Muslim women are abused during riots in North India," Kanthapuram said, and added: "If you still say that you uphold secularism there would be no greater comedy than that. No other party in Kerala could so shamelessly exploit the worst form of communalism during elections."

The League MLA then turned a CPM leader's own words against the party. "I am borrowing straight from K K Lathika's Facebook post. How shockingly communal is this. Shouldn't our state exist even after this," he asked CPM members. (These were the words Lathika had posted during the campaign while sharing a screenshot of an FB page supposedly of Muslim Students' Federation leader Muhammad Khasim and in which K K Shailaja was called a 'kafir'. Later when the police said it was yet to find evidence that the original post was made by Khasim, Lathika was forced not just to delete the post but she also locked her profile.)

"It is because of such fraud that you committed during the campaign that people have now given the LDF a new catchword: 'No one will care a damn if there is no Left'," he said.

No LDF MLA who spoke after him attempted to counter Kanthapuram. Even Industries Minister P Rajeeve, who hates to leave a taunt unattended, could only say in a lighter vein that Kanthapuram went completely off the rails.

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