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Southern States - Kerala-Thiruvananthapuram

Ravi defends Antony from VS tirade
By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 3. "Who sold his soul to the devil for the sake of a fleeting moment of ecstasy? Achuthanandan or Antony?" asks the Congress leader, Vayalar Ravi.

Mr. Ravi asked this question in a rejoinder to the Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan's recently published article criticising the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, for his "administrative failings", especially his inability to check the flare-up of communalism in the State.

Mr. Ravi said Mr. Achuthanandan's effort was to blow out of all proportion the communal incidents at Pathanamthitta and Marad and fabricate from them the case of an organised plot so as to put Mr. Antony in the dock.

He noted that secular forces indeed had a decisive influence in Kerala. However, it was also true that the State was not yet free from communal flare-ups. For quite some time now, the communal forces had been showing a tendency to unsheathe their fangs at the slightest opportunity here.

According to Mr. Ravi, the fascist forces had always been trying to strengthen Hindu communalism by exploiting the negative reaction of the majority community to the display of communal feelings among the minority communities. This strategy of the fascist forces was quite evident in the Nilackal incident years ago.

"What the CPI(M) did at that time was to encourage these forces so that it could make some political gains. Ignoring the dangers of the turn the Nilackal issue had taken, the CPI(M)'s effort was to put the UDF on the defensive by criticising the then State Government as one which had succumbed to the will of the Church," said Mr. Ravi.

He recalled that the late E.M.S. Namboodiripad even went to the extent of calling for the ouster of a Government which had dipped its hands into the public exchequer to pay pensions to the `mukris and kapyars' who worked in the mosques and churches. "His call certainly pleased the Hindu communal forces then," Mr. Ravi said.

The CPI(M) employed the same method during the Iraq war to turn the sentiments of the Muslim voters in the State in favour of the LDF during the panchayat elections. "We are with Saddam Hussain. With whom is the Congress?" was the refrain of Namboodiripad at that time. By exploiting Muslim fundamentalist feelings, the LDF and the CPI(M) romped home in that elections, Mr. Ravi said.

Mr. Ravi asked whether it was the revelation of Mr. Antony about the involvement of the supporters of the secular parties also in the incidents at Pathanamthitta and Marad which had angered Mr. Achuthanandan. His anger emanated from his guilt feeling over the role of CPI(M) workers in the communal flare-ups, Mr. Ravi alleged.

Mr. Ravi recalled that Mr. Antony, while delivering the Mathai Manjooran Memorial Lecture some years ago, had mentioned about the potential threat of minority communalism performing the role of a catalyst for the growth of majority communalism in the country. Mr. Antony had also urged the minority communities to be aware of this danger. The recent incidents showed that Mr. Antony's warning was not baseless.

The process of communalisation of the Kerala society, in fact, was being fed by the people drifting away from the secular parties. Mr. Achuthanandan could do well to subject himself and his party to a self assessment to correct the mistakes of the past. To blame the Chief Minister for the evil tendencies in the society was nothing short of escapism on the part of Mr. Achuthanandan, according to Mr.Ravi.

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