CPI(M) seeks to shed its ‘anti-religion’ image

M.V. Govindan  

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has moved to dispel the Opposition propaganda that it is antagonistic to religion. The party is hoping to fend off the increasingly strident campaign that it is against Ayyappa devotees.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have attempted to leverage the Sabarimala issue into anti-CPI(M) votes. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI(M) State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan have indicated that the government will take ‘everybody’ on board once the Supreme Court finished reviewing its 2018 majority decision allowing women of all ages to worship at the Ayyappa temple.

On Sunday, CPI(M) Central committee member M.V. Govindan sought to give an ideological veneer to the party’s ‘modified’ bearing on Sabarimala.

He said the Marxist theory of dialectical materialism held that wealth, land, class, labour, and socio-economic realities triggered social conflicts rather than the needs of the mind and spirit.

However, in India, the opposite was true. Indian society barely qualified as bourgeois democracy.

It seemed mired in medieval values moored to religious beliefs. Hence, a purely theoretical Marxian approach to matters related to faith might not gain traction in the largely traditionalist setting.

So, while remaining staunchly secular, the CPI(M) should take a pragmatic approach to religion, he said.

Middle ground

Such a middle ground is essential, especially when the BJP is seeking to brazenly exploit Hindu faith to improve its electoral prospects in Kerala.

BJP State president K. Surendran has promised to end government control of Devaswoms if voted to power. Devotees would administer temples and manage their vast assets. The Congress too has made Sabarimala the central election plank.

Mr. Govindan’s pitch drew sharp criticism from the Congress. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran equated him to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The CPI(M) had shed its communist values and adopted a Hindu nationalist political line, he said.

Bid to demonise

Its attempt to demonise the IUML as an Islamist outfit was part of the CPI(M)’s changed tack. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the CPI(M) should apologise for trampling on the faith of Ayyappa devotees. The party was wondering whether the groundswell of opposition from Ayyappa devotees would upend its bid for a second innings in power.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:28:00 PM |

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