More than a month into the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the CPI(M) seems to have been drawing support from a large section of the Muslim community, which has traditionally supported the Congress-led UDF.
The shift in the community’s approach was tangible when clerics and leaders of Muslim religious organisations such as SAMASTHA and Kerala Naduvathul Mujahideen — who have otherwise been with the UDF — became part of the human chain, organised by the CPI(M)-led LDF, on January 26 to protest against CAA.
Scores of local leaders and workers of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a Congress ally, also joined the 620-km human chain from the state’s north to south.
The growing acceptance of CPI(M) in the Muslim community in the emerging political scenario seems to have left many Congress leaders jittery.
After Sunday’s human chain, senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan aired this concern. “Participation of UDF workers in the human chain is a matter of serious concern,” he said. “It should be looked into why UDF workers went for the CPI(M) event. I have demanded that the party leadership intensify the protest against CAA.”
In Muslim-dominated areas of north Kerala, many people, wary of the CAA, are full of praise for the stance adopted by the CPI(M)-led government. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s unequivocal stand — that the state will not implement CAA, passing a resolution in Assembly demanding scrapping of the law, a firm no to NPR and NRC, and the aggressive stand against the Governor — have created an impression among Muslims in Kerala that the LDF can address the community’s concerns over CAA.
Earlier, when LDF organised big anti-CAA rallies in Malappuram and Kozhikode, it brought on its platform leaders of the organisation SAMASTHA, which has close ties with IUML. SAMASTHA leaders had publicly acclaimed Vijayan’s stand against CAA.
The CPI(M) gained ground in the anti-CAA protests in the state at a time the UDF was divided over its strategy. While Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Congress’s Ramesh Chennithala, welcomed a joint protest with LDF, party’s state president Mullappally Ramachandran wanted UDF to go solo. Within UDF, the IUML is learnt to be in favour of a joint agitation with LDF.
Senior CPI(M) leader M V Jayarajan said, “There is grave concern among Muslims about CAA. When Babri Masjid was demolished, religious extremists had tried to capitalise on the situation. This time, such attempts did not succeed. Instead, CPI(M) could convince the community that religious minorities should stand with secular forces.”
Jayarajan, the party’s district secretary in Kannur, also said, “During our house-to-house campaign, we get encouraging feedback from pro-UDF families from the Muslim community.”
Dr Fazal Gafoor, a political observer and president of the Muslim Educational Society, said, “The CPI(M)’s acceptance among Muslims has grown significantly after the CAA protests. At present, it is big scoring for CPI(M) and Vijayan. There have been prompt responses from the state government as well as the LDF in addressing the concerns over CAA. Vijayan and his government’s stand helped Muslims tide over the fear factor.”
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