CAA issue takes centrestage in Kerala


Kerala’s election buzz: CAA sparks debate among traditional rivals – Congress and CPI(M) – ahead of single-phase polling for 20 Lok Sabha seats….reports Asian Lite News

 Weeks before the single-phase polling to Kerala’s 20 Lok Sabha seats, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continues to take centre stage in the election campaign of the state’s two traditional political rivals – who are part of the INDIA bloc at the national level but fierce competitors in the state.

A reason why the CAA is now one of the most discussed and debated poll issues between the ruling CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front is the state has nearly 24 per cent Muslims in its over 3.30 crore population.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took up the issue right after the CAA was passed by the Parliament in 2019, asserting that it would not be implemented in Kerala. On the last day of 2019, his government, with the support of the Congress-led opposition, got a resolution demanding the scrapping of the provision passed nearly unanimously by the Assembly, with the lone BJP legislator O. Rajagopal being the only one opposing it.

Since then, the issue was lying dormant but regained focus with the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls, and Vijayan again used it to attack the Congress.

The Chief Minister has been consistently slamming the Congress’ national leadership in general and Rahul Gandhi, who is an MP from the state, in particular over their “silence” on the CAA.

But when he claimed that the issue was also missing in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, the state leadership of the Congress, including the Leader of Opposition V.D.Satheesan and veteran legislator Ramesh Chennithala, hit back at him, alleging that he was shedding crocodile tears and pleasing the BJP leadership by attacking Rahul Gandhi.

However, Vijayan is refusing to abandon the issue, noting in the election campaign that right from 2019 when this issue first surfaced, the Left, inside and outside the Parliament, had strongly come out against it but the Congress “played hide and seek”, showing some inclination for a joint protest, but backing out later.

His tirades intensified when the Congress manifesto came out and he pointed out that while his CPI-M’s manifesto is clear that the CAA will be repealed, the Congress is still “silent” on it.

“Just look at the Congress manifesto, there is total silence on what they will do if they come to power with regards to the CAA. Is it not clear that they are hand in glove with the BJP with regards to the CAA,” he claimed.

But the Congress is hitting back at Vijayan, with acting state Congress President M.M. Hassan accusing the Chief Minister of attacking Rahul Gandhi and the Congress to keep Prime Minister Narendra Modi “happy” as he has grave cases against him and his family.

Hassan also said that Vijayan is “engaged in spreading lies” against Rahul Gandhi, but the truth is that the Congress leader has 18 cases in various states because he protested and spoke against the CAA.

The BJP, starting from PM Modi to the grassroots party workers, is also seeking to capitalise on the issue, accusing the two fronts of hypocrisy by being part of the INDIA bloc but fighting in Kerala.

State BJP President K. Surendran contended that times have changed and the people of Kerala have now understood that the CPI-M and Congress are two sides of the same coin and both these parties have just one agenda of garnering the Muslim votes and will go to any extent for this.

“They hug in Delhi and they fight in Kerala. This tactic will not work anymore,” he said.

Kerala Congress Rivalry Peaks in Kottayam

The electoral landscape of Kottayam, Kerala, paints a vivid picture of political manoeuvring and strategic campaigning as the Lok Sabha elections draw near. The significance of this constituency transcends mere political rivalry; it embodies a microcosm of Kerala’s socio-political dynamics, with a blend of regional identity, agrarian concerns, and national issues.

The campaign buzz in Kottayam commenced early, ignited by the announcement of the first candidate for the state. Kottayam, often considered the citadel of influential Kerala Congress parties and the hub of rubber plantations, sets the stage for a compelling electoral battle. Amidst the fervent discussions to finalize candidates, the Kerala Congress (M) asserted its presence by nominating MP Thomas Chazhikkadan for re-election under the Left Democratic Front (LDF) banner.

However, the political landscape in Kottayam is not a mere showdown between traditional rivals. It’s a multifaceted contest marked by the convergence of various political factions. Chazhikkadan’s opponent, Francis George, represents the Kerala Congress (Joseph), an ally of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF). This electoral rivalry encapsulates the intricate alliances and realignments within Kerala’s political spectrum.

What distinguishes Kottayam’s electoral battle is the direct confrontation between factions of the Kerala Congress (M) and the Kerala Congress (J), both vying for supremacy in the region. This dynamic interplay of factions adds layers of complexity to an already intense campaign atmosphere.

Key issues reverberating through Kottayam’s political discourse range from national concerns like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to regional challenges such as declining rubber prices and agrarian distress. The rubber price issue, in particular, holds paramount importance in this constituency, reflecting the livelihood concerns of the local populace.

Amidst the electoral cacophony, candidates vie for attention by presenting their visions and promises for the constituency’s development. Chazhikkadan emphasizes his track record as an MP, citing infrastructural projects and development initiatives undertaken during his tenure. Conversely, George advocates for farmers’ rights and proposes comprehensive plans for the revival of the constituency, including agricultural reforms and infrastructural development.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also seeks to make inroads by addressing the concerns of rubber growers and projecting a development-centric agenda under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As Kottayam braces for the electoral showdown, the stakes are high, resonating not only with political ambitions but also with the legacy of prominent leaders like Oommen Chandy and K M Mani. The outcome of this election will not only shape the political landscape of Kottayam but also reverberate across Kerala’s socio-political milieu, reflecting the aspirations and concerns of its diverse electorate.

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