Thiruvananthapuram: A Facebook post by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, probably aiming to carry the voting pattern in the just-concluded local body poll to the coming assembly elections, has animated the political debate in the state.
Vijayan lamented in the post that the Congress party, which suffered a serious reversal in its traditional strongholds, has become so vulnerable that it has even lost its capacity to choose its leaders as its leadership is decided by the Muslim League, which is the second most important constituent of the opposition United Democratic Front.
The CPI-M strongman was responding to the criticism by the Muslim League that problems with the Congress leadership had affected the front’s electoral fortunes and immediate attention was required to mend ways so that the UDF can face the assembly elections with confidence.
The Muslim League leaders were upset by the divergence of opinion within the Congress over the party’s poll adjustments with the Welfare Party, considered by liberal public opinion as a fundamentalist Muslim outfit.
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran had denied that his party had any truck with the Welfare Party, while local leaders defended the poll adjustments, causing much embarrassment to the more liberal sections within the party.
League claimed that the skirmish had sent a wrong message to the people about the stability of the opposition front, which according to the party may have affected the UDF’s chances in the local body elections.
But both Congress and League described Vijayan’s move as a dangerous game of creating communal polarisation by setting the majority community against the minorities. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala described Vijayan as ‘wholesale merchant’ of communalism and denounced his plan.
League leader P K Kunhalikkutty denied that League was trying to dictate to Congress in view of its electoral drubbing and claimed his party never interfered with the affairs of other parties. But his party was obviously entitled to discuss the affairs of the front, he insisted.
Splinter Muslim parties have also come strongly against the chief minister’s observations and they alleged that Vijayan was playing into the hands of RSS and promoting their divisive agenda.
Curiously, Vijayan’s line found ready support from minister of state for external affairs Muraleedharan, who asserted that the BJP has all along been maintaining that Congress had surrendered the UDF leadership to the Muslim League.
After keeping quiet initially, the CPI-M party apparatus got into the act of defending the chief minister’s remarks, with state secretary A Vijayaraghavan claiming that Vijayan had only referred to Muslim League and not Muslims.
The chief minister was only making a political statement in view of Muslim League’s growing proximity to fundamentalist elements, he added.