Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala will continue to conduct joint protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The politically significant decision was taken at the all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday. The meeting was attended by all parties and social and religious organisations except the BJP and the Nair Service Society (NSS).
Two representatives of the BJP attended the meeting and voiced their opposition to the conduct of such a meeting. They said the meeting was unconstitutional as it was seeking to protest against a bill that was passed by Parliament and given assent by the President. Therefore, they were boycotting it.
The meeting authorised Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition (LOP) Ramesh Chennithala to decide the modalities of the joint protests to be conducted against the CAA and the NRC.
The LOP has made a few suggestions in this regard. First, a session of the State Assembly be held to discuss the issue and pass a resolution. An all-party delegation should call on the President to register its protest. He also said that all cases filed against the protesters should be withdrawn immediately.
The outcome of the meeting shows the determination of the parties in the State to voice peacefully their strong protest against the CAA and the NRC. The joint protest held recently by the CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is no flash in the pan and a one-time affair. The movement will gain greater resonance and momentum in the days ahead. That, in essence, was the crux of the powerful message beamed by the meeting.
What remains to be seen, however, is how Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran will react to the highly significant decision. Mullappally, it may be pointed out, had strongly opposed joint protests. His contention: there is no need for the Congress, which is spearheading the protests at the national level, to play a secondary role to the CPI (M) in the State on the issue. Also, the CPI (M), the KPCC chief said, had sabotaged the efforts for a broad secular front against the BJP at the national level. The party should first apologise before joint protests can be considered. This is Mullappally’s stance.
But several senior Congress leaders like Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and V D Satheeshan have rejected the Mullappally line. There are of the view that differences between the LDF and the UDF at the state level should not come in the way of a bigger battle in the face of a national danger in the form of CAA and the NRC. Mullappally however continues to stick to his stance.
Now that the all-party meeting has decided to continue joint protests, the ball is back in the court of Mullappally. Will he change his stance now? That is the million dollar question.
The protagonists of joint protests argue that both the Congress and the CPI (M) have joined hands at the national level. And such joint action should take place at the State level, too. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury were standing shoulder to shoulder at the national level, they argue.
Incidentally, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second most powerful constituent of the UDF, is all for joint protests. The party’s leaders have rejected the Mullappally’s stand.
The nation is passing through extremely difficult times. And this is not the time for the opposition parties to fight among themselves. Such a stand will only help the BJP-RSS combine. That is a luxury neither the opposition nor the nation can afford at this critical juncture.