KERALA

Pinarayi hits out at League-BJP `links'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM MAY 22. After going somewhat soft on the Muslim League for quite sometime now, the CPI(M) leadership appears to have decided to do some plain speaking on the League's "active" encouragement of Muslim communal extremism and its several engagements with the RSS-BJP combine.

Writing in the party organ, `Deshabhimani', the CPI(M) State secretary, Pinarayi Vijayan, has accused the Muslim League of being in cahoots with Muslim extremists on the one hand and Hindu fundamentalist forces on the other.

He attributes the May 3 Marad killings to the League's policy of doing business with the RSS-BJP combine even while claiming to protect the Muslim community.

The article is noteworthy both for its harsh tone and the implied rupture in the CPI(M) leadership's bonhomie with their League counterparts.

The reason why the CPI(M) has now chosen to lash out at the Muslim League may have to do with more than the Marad developments and questions of political positioning, but its implications for the Muslim community in north Kerala are too significant to be overlooked.

What is most striking about Mr. Vijayan's editorial page article, which appeared on May 20, is its focus on the wheeling-dealing that has been going on between the Muslim League and the RSS-BJP combine ever since the `Beypore experiment' way back in 1991. In fact, Mr. Vijayan has spent more space on this than on the oft-repeated theme of the Muslim League leadership providing covert support and cover for the National Development Front (NDF).

It is by any measure a hard-hitting article and, coming as it does from Mr. Vijayan, who is known as one of those who have been soft on the Muslim League, it certainly reflects a feeling of deep hurt.

The immediate provocation for the article is the Muslim League leadership's accusation that the CPI(M) has taken on the party "to serve its political vested interests." However, the real reason, apart from the personal dimensions that some observers would love to see, could be the CPI(M) leadership's apprehension about a deeply embarrassed Muslim League making peace with the RSS-BJP combine with the help of the Congress.

That the BJP and the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, are on cosy terms should have become evident to them after seeing and hearing the Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani, during his visit to the State capital the other day, especially what he had told the RSS delegation that called on him with the demand for a CBI probe into the Marad killings. That this is an unfolding story should be evident from his subsequent secret parleys with the Chief Minister, the Cabinet decision to seek the services of a sitting judge to probe the Marad killings and Mr. Antony's personal decision to call on the Muslim League supremo, Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal, to assuage any ruffled feelings.

Mr. Vijayan's article has a list of instances when the Muslim League was caught red-handed when either trying to cover up the actions of the Muslim extremists or when being hand-in-glove with the RSS-BJP combine even while shouting itself hoarse about the threat from majority communalism.

Last week, when this correspondent asked him, at his post-CPI(M) State committee briefing, whether he thought the actions of the Muslim League were proving beneficial to majority communalists, Mr. Vijayan was circumspect about giving a direct reply and confined himself to repeating the official CPI(M) line that majority and minority communalism fed on each other.

But his article speaks in a different voice and, though it ends welcoming the Muslim League working committee decision to launch a campaign against religious fundamentalism, almost the whole of it is a no-holds-barred attack on the League.

Mr. Vijayan's target could also be the average Hindu mind, which feels hurt after the gruesome killings at Marad. But the message for the Muslim League is too loud and clear to go unheard.

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