The Muslim League normally shies away from holding demonstrations that evoke memories of martyrs. The party's agitational methods are more restrained than other organisations. However, the Muslim Youth League, the youth wing of the party, launched its agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at the Pookkottoor Memorial, a venue with significant links to the Malabar Rebellion of 1921.
The choice of the starting point of the day-night march by the Muslim Youth League reflects the organisation's determination to fight it out against the apparently partisan legislation introduced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
As the CAA pushed the nation into large-scale violence, the Muslim League terminology changed too. Muslim League leaders who hitherto referred to their constituency as 'minorities' started to say they would defend the Muslims against persecution. Even women and children, who were usually kept out of political demonstrations, have hit the streets in north Kerala.
The Muslim League leadership has also revived the Muslim Coordination Committee to bring all interests in the community under one banner.
A massive rally expected to be held in Kochi on January 2 will shift the nucleus of the agitation to central Kerala. The Muslim League leadership has asked the Congress and other allies in the United Democratic Front to take up the agitation and ensure a broader support base.
The Muslim League would only stand to gain if the central government's moves lead to a mobilisation within the Muslim community.
The CPM-led Left Democratic Front government has launched a vibrant agitation against the CAA and the chief minister himself called for a meeting of religious leaders. The UDF, in the meantime, couldn't take a solid stand to fight along with their political rivals in Kerala.
The Muslim League was left on the back foot when the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and the Welfare Party declared hartal. The party wanted to eclipse the protest method by these Muslim outfits by joining forces with the ruling LDF – a strategy mooted by Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty and Congress leader Oommen Chandy.
When Congress leader and the leader of the opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, sent feelers to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan over phone, the latter said the ruling front was considering fielding ministers on the protest path. The two leaders agreed to expand the leadership of the agitation to ministers and leaders of all parties in the Legislative Assembly.
That left several opposition parties out of the game, including RSP leader N K Premachandran, who had raised a spirited argument against the CAA in the Lok Sabha. CMP leader C P John lamented that his party was left out of the strategy just like the Muslims who were omitted from the controversial law.
Kerala Congress leader P J Joseph wanted to patch up all differences and put up a unified opposition in the form of a human chain but other leaders were not warm to the idea because of possible gaps in the chain and the shame it could entail.
Meanwhile, the LDF announced its own human chain across the length of the state.
Kerala's politics will be steered by protests in the days to come. Each of the dominant alliances have to rise to the occasion to gain the trust of the minorities.