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Congress’s 50-50 Stance on Secularism Unacceptable, Says Prakash Karat

The CPI(M) leader also flayed the decision by Congress to ban their leaders from attending seminars organised by CPI(M).

Kannur: A seminar on 'Challenges to Secularism' organised as part of the 23rd Party Congress of the CPI (M) in Kannur called for an uncompromising stand against the Hindutva brand of communalism that challenges the secular character of the country.

Prakash Karat, former general secretary and politburo member of the party, dismissed the Congress party's 'fifty-fifty stance on secularism' and lauded Kerala's resistance against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a role model for the country.

BJP-ruled states have seen a succession of legislations that give priority to Hindutva ideology, delegitimise minority citizens, and deny them constitutional rights of being equal citizens, Karat said. He added that Karnataka, the neighbour-state of Kerala, has joined many North-Indian states that have laws passed to undermine the equal rights of minority citizens.

In nearly half the states of India, there are legislations that treat the minority as second-class citizens. These include anti-conversion law, criminalisation of interfaith marriage and rules and regulations banning hijab for girl students in educational institutions, and the prohibition on meat trade and cattle slaughter, etc.

For the first time, the Union government introduced religious criteria for citizenship through CAA, Karat said, adding that State institutions, both legislature and the administration, were being utilised to push through laws that privilege the majority community's religion and criminalise the minority community's religious and cultural ways of life. This process is proceeding at pace, Karat observed at the inaugural speech.

In many states, Hindutva legislations are implemented with the support of Congress. “Congress, the opposition party, does not object to the inclusion of the Bhagavad Gita in the school syllabus in Gujarat”, Karat said adding that Congress, which claims to be a secular party, needs to explain its position on these issues.

Karat also said that the decision by Congress to ban their leaders from seminars organised by the CPI (M) would further undermine the credibility of the party.

The absence of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor at the seminar was disappointing, he said. Tharoor had expressed his interest to attend a seminar on a topic of national importance. But, the Congress leaders in Kerala and some AICC leaders barred him from the seminar. The Congress is again taking a position that further undermines its credibility when the need of the hour is for all secularists to unite to bring down the BJP. This shows the soft-Hindutva approach of the Congress, added Karat.

The aim of the Sangh Parivar is to gradually destroy secular values to establish a Hindutva state, he said. “An uncompromising stance is necessary to protect secularism. Congress needs to explain why they are unable to do that. The '50% secularism and 50% Hindutva' stance is dangerous,” Karat said.

He said the taken by Kerala in these matters should be modelled. When the BJP government at the Centre decided to implement the CAA, Kerala Assembly passed a resolution terming it unacceptable. This proves the firm stance of the CPI(M) and the Left to protect secularism, said, adding that the presence of the Left is decisive in protecting the rights of all sections of the people.

CPI General Secretary D Raja also attended the seminar. Raja said the Left parties should initiate the formation of a broader secular-democratic alliance to bring down the communal regime of the BJP. He added that Congress needs to retrospect their soft-Hindutva approach in the battle to protect secularism. Kadannappally Ramachandran MLA, the Congress(Socialist) party leader, also spoke at the seminar.

MK Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and DMK supremo, will speak at a seminar on 'Centre-State Relations' on Saturday. Congress Leader and Former Union Minister Prof. KV Thomas has also confirmed his participation despite an ultimatum from the state unit of the Congress party barring him from the seminar.

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