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CPM reframes tussle with Kerala Governor as Sangh vs it

In an article in the CPM daily Deshabhimani Thursday, party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the Governor and government were aligned against each other: with one on the side of Narendra Modi, and the other on the side opposed to him.

arif mohammed khanKerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has in recent days cancelled several recommendations by the government, saying he was determined to set the house in order. (Express file photo by Amit Mehra)

As tension between the Kerala government and Governor Arif Mohammed Khan escalates over matters in higher education, the CPM is reframing the tussle as a battle between the ideologies of the Sangh Parivar and its own “secular” outlook.

In doing so, it hopes to not just send a message to the Muslim voters it is trying to woo, but also preempt the Congress from seizing on Khan’s allegations of wrongdoing. Perhaps realising the same, the BJP has kept away from the conflict between the Pinaravi Vijayan-led LDF government and Khan.

The Governor has in recent days cancelled several recommendations by the government to positions in universities and colleges, saying he was determined to set the house in order and discharge his obligation to cleanse the sector.

In an article in the CPM daily Deshabhimani Thursday, party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the Governor and government were aligned against each other: with one on the side of Narendra Modi, and the other on the side opposed to him. “The Governor has created a lot of issues. His stand on the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, his bid to prevent the resolution against the farm laws in the Assembly… the unnecessary controversy over the re-appointment of the Kannur Vice-Chancellor… the agenda of the Sangh Parivar is hidden in these issues,” he wrote.

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Balakrishnan went on to state that Khan had a grudge towards Kannur V-C Gopinath Ravindran as the latter did not back the CAA while speaking at the Indian History Congress in Kannur in 2019. “When Khan praised the CAA… Prof Irfan Habib questioned it. Years later, the Governor now alleges a conspiracy behind Habib’s move. This reveals the anti-minority stand of the Modi government. Khan is exhibiting the tendency to become a commander-in-chief of the Modi administration,” the CPM Politburo member wrote.

On Thursday, another Politburo member, M A Baby, wrote on Facebook that Khan was a Muslim face projected to justify the government’s “fascist politics” of “annihilating the minority”. “He not only protects the interests of the BJP, but also pollutes our atmosphere by insulting erudite historians like Irfan Habib,” Baby said.

On the back foot over Khan’s attacks, particularly over the appointment of the spouse of Vijayan’s private secretary to Kannur University, the CPM has with this move ensured the Congress will be wary of entering the issue. It would fear being labelled as soft-Hindutva, and helping the BJP weaken a “secular” government in Kerala, just as CPM leader and State Higher Education Minister R Bindu did in the Assembly Thursday.

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As the Congress made noises over the issue, Bindu said: “The Sangh Parivar is using Constitutional bodies to smuggle Hindutva agenda into the state’s higher education sector. The Congress is backing such an agenda because of that party’s soft-Hindutva line.”

Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan has tried to counter this, saying that far from the Congress, there was an understanding between the Governor and the government. “Balakrishnan should make clear whether Khan had been a Sangh Parivar agent when he re-appointed Dr Gopinath Ravindran as Kannur V-C,” he said.

While the CPM perhaps is also hopeful that the shrill Sangh Parivar line would goad the BJP into joining issue with it, the BJP has so far not taken the bait to defend Khan in the latest round of controversies.

First published on: 27-08-2022 at 11:13 IST
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