While the human chain organised by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala bagged massive response from the masses, the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) is battling with its internal conflicts. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), one of the main constituent parties in the UDF, has suspended one of its local leaders for participating in the human chain against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on the occasion of the 71st Republic Day on January 26.
The 620 kilo meter-long human chain witnessed the participation of more than 70 lakh people. People from all walks of life and of all ages, including young and old, women and men, lined up alongside the national highway 66 (NH 66) which connects the south and north ends of the state. The people’s participation largely remained unaffected by their religious and political affiliations.
Though the IUML leaders including PK Kunjhalikkuty and MK Muneer had said that there won’t be any action against the cadres who had participated in the chain, KM Basheer, a local leader from Beypore in Kozhikode, has been suspended from the party.
On Monday, January 27, IUML state general secretary KPA Majeed sought explanation from KM Basheer, vice president of IUML’s Beypore constituency, after he had participated in the chain and criticised the UDF leadership. Basheer responded that he was just representing the feelings of common man, and that the resistance under the leadership of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has given hopes and relief to the Muslim community.
Also read: Kerala Plans for More Joint Protests Against CAA-NRC
“IUML state president Panakkad Hyderali has not issued any direction asking the members not to participate in the CPI(M)’s [Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s] protest. Apart from politics, people have strong reaction towards anti-CAA protests. I took part in the protest for the country and not for the party,” said Basheer.
IUML had not extended its support to the chain. However, senior leader and Parliamentarian PK Kunhalikkutty has a different opinion over the participation of IUML cadres in the chain. “People are taking part in the anti-CAA protests without bothering on their political affiliations. So, participation of Muslim League members in LDF’s human chain should not be turned controversial,” Kunhalikkutty has said.
IUML leader and deputy leader of Opposition in the Assembly, MK Muneer, had also expressed a similar opinion over this issue. Responding to the questions over the participation of IUML cadres in human chain, Muneer said that though the party had decided not to participate in the chain, it had not issued any orders or directions asking party workers not to participate in the chain in their individual capacity.
“Some people might have participated in it in their individual capacity. Those who are part of religious organisations have dual membership making them members of both IUML and the organisation concerned. For example, Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM) had decided to participate in the human chain and many IUML workers are the part of the organisation,” Muneer said.
Muneer also noted that religious organisations were becoming part of the protests series to extend their support for the cause. “It is not the right moment to take count of party workers who have participated and take action against them,” he added.
Senior Congress leader and parliamentarian K Muraleedharan has also urged the UDF leadership to look into fact that its members have participated in the human chain. Shortly after the formation of human chain, Muraleedharan had commented that several people who had voted for the UDF in the last parliament elections had participated in the human chain which was led by the LDF.
“Many including myself won because of their votes, Congress has to make sure that it does not lose these votes, the votes of minority,” he said. However, Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran had reportedly taken the comments of Muraleedharan as an indirect attack on his leadership. Later, responding to the comments of Muraleedhran, Mullappally had responded that no self-respecting Congressman were part of the human chain.
Also read: 70 Lakh Take Part in Human Chain Against CAA in Kerala
Meanwhile, ever since the Centre tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament, the people of Kerala, irrespective of political and religious differences, have been opposing the Centre’s move. When the bill became an act on December 12 with the President’s assent, the ruling LDF and opposition UDF had come together to mark their voice against CAA and National Register for Citizen (NRC).
Except the BJP-RSS, along with Jamaat-e-Islami and its affiliated groups, almost all other political organisations have come together to defend secularism. On December 16, a joint protest gathering, held by the ruling front and Opposition against the Act had drawn national attention as the arch political rivals shed their ideological differences and joined hands for a common cause.
Later, however, Congress and UDF camp had witnessed some friction within their parties for aligning with its political rival, the CPI(M)-led LDF.