Kerala CM re-ignites ‘love jihad’ myth

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister V S Achutanandan’s charge that the Popular Front of India (PFI), which allegedly masterminded the Taliban-style attack on a college lecturer, has plans to Islamize Kerala in 20 years using “money and marriages” has reignited the “love jihad’ controversy, hotly debated in the state last year. Speaking to reporters in New Delhi on 24 July, VS said PFI was trying to multiply Muslim numbers in the state “by influencing youth of other religions and converting them by giving money, marrying them to Muslim women and thus producing kids of the community.” In a way, the CM was endorsing the concerns expressed by the Kerala high court, which in August 2009, asked the state police to probe if there was an organised racket working to lure youth for conversion using love and money.

Reacting to VS’s statement, PFI state unit president Nasaruddeen Elamaram said: “These are baseless charges which were examined and already rejected by the courts.”

The CM has also incurred the ire of almost all Muslim organisations and political parties who, regardless of their political differences, including the mainstream party Indian Union Muslim League, dubbed Achuthanandan’s statement as “dangerous” and meant to “insulting the entire community.” While dubbing Achuthanandan’s comment as “deplorable” and “dangerous”, UDF leaders suspected it was part of a strategy of his party to play “Hindu card” in the forthcoming civic and assembly polls “as a last-ditch attempt” to regain the eroded support base of ruling LDF, as reflected in Parliament elections last year.

“Through his statement, the Chief Minister is testing waters if the LDF could garner votes of the majority community since it has incurred the wrath of the minority communities through its policies,” UDF convener P P Thankachan said.

BJP said that the Chief Minister’s comment betrayed the “double standard” of his party on the issues of communalism and extremism. If Achuthanandan was serious in his concerns on the growth of communal and extremist forces, he should be ready to outlaw Popular Front and issue a white paper on the radical outfits working in the state, BJP state president V Muraleedharan said.

Two months back, Achuthanandan surprised political circles in the state by saying Muslim and Christian communalism had been gaining strength in Kerala.

What baffled Muslim leaders and others was that the statement came at an inappropriate time. Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said that statement at such juncture was uncalled for. “We have extended all help to the government for getting rid of anti-national elements. But we never expected such a careless statement from him in return, putting the entire community under a shadow”, he said. “It is a shame. No responsible leader will make such a statement,” Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed said.

The CM, however, defended his statement in the assembly on 26 July saying that people were out to misinterpret his remarks. He said his intention was to expose the subversive activities carried out by the PFI based on the evidences recovered by the police.