The CPM finds itself in a spot in Kerala after its Kozhikode Mayor attended a Sangh Parivar event, where she said characters in Hindu mythology should be imbibed and mothers should be devotees of Lord Krishna.
Attending a mothers’ meeting organised by Balagokulam, a Sangh Parivar outfit for children, on Sunday, Kozhikode Corporation Mayor Beena Philip said: “One should have the image of Lord Krishna in one’s mind. Characters in Hindu mythology should be imbibed. If mothers have devotion towards Little Krishna, they would not get angry towards their children. Every child should be considered as Little Krishna. Then, devotion and love would grow in the minds of children.”
Balagokulam professes to promote learning about the Hindu faith among children, inspired by Lord Krishna.
Philip’s attendance at the RSS-linked event came close on the heels of another CPM Mayor, Arya Rajendran of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, stirring a row by promoting separate sports teams in general and SC/ST categories. Rajendran, who belongs to the upper caste Hindu Nair community, first justified that the idea was to better utilise SC/ST funds. But later, she had to drop the plan in the wake of outrage.
At Sunday’s event, where she garlanded an idol of Lord Krishna, Philip said Kerala lags behind North India in childcare. Acknowledging the low infant mortality rate in the state, she said: “Preventing the death of newborns is not enough. What matters is what we deliver to them in childhood. North Indians know how to love children.”
As the CPM leader’s presence at the RSS-linked function and her remarks stirred a row, Philip defended herself Monday, saying there was no instruction from her party about keeping away from such an event. “I was speaking to mothers. I never felt Balagokulam was an RSS organisation,” she said.
CPM district secretary P Mohanan though publicly distanced the party from the Mayor’s move. “She should not have attended the Balagokulam programme. It is against the party’s stand… We are publicly rejecting her stand,’’ he said in a statement.
With the CPM and Congress in a constant tussle in the state to prove their “secular” credentials, the Opposition was quick to call the incident proof of “the nexus between the CPM and RSS”. “The CPM should clarify whether the party acknowledges the Mayor’s stand that Kerala lags behind in childcare,” Congress Kozhikode district president Praveen Kumar said, while adding that Philip was a fan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Recently, the shoe was on the other foot when IUML leader K N A Khader had attended an RSS-linked event in Kozhikode. The CPM had called it a sign of the Congress-led UDF’s “soft Hindutva line”.
Philip belongs to one of the earliest Communist families of Kerala. Her father M J Philip was an active Communist Party of India worker at Koothattukulam in Ernakulam when it was banned. In the split in the CPI in 1964, M J Philip had moved to the CPM.
Beena Philip became an active worker of the SFI, the CPM student wing, when still in college. She was employed as a government schoolteacher, and retired as principal of a higher secondary school in Kozhikode, which was one of the first government schools in Kerala to get an infrastructure uplift with corporate support.
She contested the Kozhikode corporation elections in 2020, and won.