While Kerala Devaswom Minister’s Guruvayoor temple visit has put the Kerala society in a dilemma as to what exactly is the Communist party’s stand on religion, the Opposition in the State and the student and youth organisations of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) find nothing special about it.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran had visited Guruvayoor temple on Sreekrishna Jayanthi along with his family members and had conducted some ‘vazhipadu’ at the temple. The Minister, who spent the whole day at the temple, had given explanation the other day that his family members were strict devotees.
Even when the Kerala society got amused by the Communist Minister’s high profile temple visit and the explanation he had provided, the Opposition party seems to be unprovoked.
When asked for his response to the visit, veteran Congress leader K. Muraleedharan said that the Opposition found nothing special in it. “The Minister is dealing with temples and its administrations as part of his duty. What is there to be bothered if he visits one of those institutions which he administers and gets involved in its activities by showing respect. The Opposition has no objection in this regard. The Congress has never been against faith though we had taken stringent stance against superstitions. This is a respectable act by the Minister,” he said.
He further said that the Congress had always opposed the fascist powers to take control of religion and its institutions. “We have often expressed our disregard for the fascist powers in India who appropriate religion for their own interests. And this stand will continue,” he said.
Student Federation of India (SFI) state secretary M. Vijin denied the chances of the Minister’s action encouraging fascist powers. “I am not the suitable one to say anything about the party’s stand on religion. I can only say from the perspective of students’ union which I head. As a party worker, I have never been against religions. Ours is a pluralistic society where the people believe in different religious groups. The Communist party I know has never preached to scrap religion. Instead, we have only been taught to stay united amid religious differences. And we believe that students in Indian society have the responsibility to ensure this unity survives threats and challenges from fundamentalist groups. We prepare students to face this threat at a time the challenge to the country’s democratic and secular values is at an all-time high.”
Vijin continued, “I don’t think the Minister’s visit to the temple would help the fascist powers to assume control. Kerala’s one of the most determining struggles was held in 1931 and it was called Guruvayoor Satyagraham. The people who led wanted the temple authorities to open its gates to all, cutting across caste barriers. It was Communist leaders like AKG and P. Krishna Pillai who led these protest along with prominent cultural leaders like K. Kelappan and Mannath Padmanabhan. The RSS or BJP who claim to be the safe guarders of religion had not got involved in this highly-decisive mass struggle.”
“And to those who say that Communist parties led Sreekrishna Jayanthi processions, the party has never led such processions. We conducted processions at various parts of the State from September 6 to 12 as part of the birth anniversaries of various cultural leaders of Kerala. Deliberate attempts are being made by Sangh Parivar and related groups to appropriate all the cultural leaders like Vivekanandan, Chattambi Swamikal and Sreenarayana Guru. Our processions aimed to liberate these figures from being labelled.” Vijin said.
Meanwhile, CPI leader Kanam Rajendran said that the Communist Party of India had always opposed religion’s influence on society. “I don’t want to react to the Minister’s action. From our perspective, the party I represent believes in the essentials of Marxism which thrives in the abolition of religion. We are a party which has its ideals based in the Marxian philosophies including dialectical materialism. We are strongly opposing anything that disintegrates Indian society. We will take leadership to unite the secular forces in the country to fight against fundamentalism, religious intolerance and fascism. Work on that front has begun,” he said.
Minister Kadakampally Surendran and CPI (M) General Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan declined to react when contacted. “I have made my stand clear on the issue. Nothing more to say at this point,” Kadakampally said. The Minister, the other day, had said that he visited the temple as part of his work and the party leadership had maintained that the details of the visit was not known to them.