CPM fishes in troubled waters

via Pioneer News Service | Kochi published on February 25, 2008

The CPI(M) has begun fishing in troubled waters in Kerala as the gulf among various religious communities is becoming wider in the context of the LDF Government’s bid to implement the controversial Rajinder Sachar Committee recommendations for the Muslim community.

The indications of the CPI(M) strategy of implementing its “divide-and-rule policy” became obvious when CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to shower praises on Syro-Malabar Church’s Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, who is the new president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI) for his statement against the Hindu Nair Service Society (NSS).
After assuming charge as the new CBCI chief in Kochi on Monday, Mar Varkey said that the Christian Church would not entertain the anti-minority stances of the NSS. He warned that the NSS should not think that the Church was in agreement with all the positions taken by the Nair outfit.
The immediate provocation for Mar Varkey’s statement against the NSS was its general secretary PK Narayana Panicker’s remarks against minority communities in the context of the report of the committee headed by Local Administration Minister Palaoli Muhammad Kutty, which studied ways for implementing the Sachar recommendations in Kerala. The Church and the NSS had forged a unity in their fight against the State Government’s policies on aided educational institutions.
The NSS chief had stated that it was fortunate that Sachar had not recommended spoon-feeding intelligence and education to the minorities, which had invited immediate criticism from several quarters including the Muslim Educational Society (MES), an associate of NSS in the fight against the Left front Government’s policies on self-financing professional colleges.
Disagreeing with the NSS, Mar Varkey said that the Christian Church was convinced about the social and educational backwardness of the Muslims in the State. He said that the Church had some areas of agreement with the NSS, like the fight against the Government move to hand over the authority for making appointments to aided institutions to the Public Service Commission. “This does not mean that we are in agreement in all matters. If the NSS thinks that the Church agrees with it on all issues, it is terribly mistaken,” Mar Varkey said.
Welcoming the stand of the Cardinal, Pinarayi Vijayan said in a statement in Thiruvananthapuram that the Church head’s words reflected “reason and intelligence”. Pinarayi said that Mar Varkey’s stand was mature enough to find solutions to several social and educational issues in Kerala. The stand of the Cardinal would strengthen secularism, he added.
Observers said that the conflicts coming out everyday on the issue of the Palaoli report were indications that the CPI(M) strategy of creating divide among the various religious communities. The party had already created pro-Left ripples among the Muslims, they said.
The first signs of the divide among communities caused by the Paloli Committee’s recommendations on the Sachar report came when MES chief Fazal Gafoor reacted sharply to Narayana Panicker for his statement. Panicker’s outfit has always been against reservation on caste basis but this is the first time it was inviting such harsh criticism, analysts said. “The reason for this development is the Sachar report. And it seems that the CPI(M) is playing its cards well by appeasing some community and enraging certain others. It is nothing but the old imperialist strategy of divide and rule,” said a sociology professor based in Kochi.

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