Meanwhile, the opposition Congress urged the Kerala government to conduct an all-party meeting to end the issue.

The Bishop in his white robes is in the church, in front of a microphone, speakingCourtesy - MediaOne
news Controversy Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 09:50

Days after the Bishop of Pala, Joseph Kallarangatt, made a controversial comment on “narcotic jihad” in Kerala, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – that leads the ruling Left Democratic Front in the state – accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to reap political benefits out of the situation, dividing people on communal lines. The BJP had been vocal in its support of the Bishop who in the same breath had put “narcotic jihad” and “love jihad” – a long-held claim by right-wing groups that Muslim men “lure” Hindu women for forced conversion – together.

"No statement should be made by anyone that would create religious polarisation in the society. People of Kerala long for communal harmony and peace. No one should make any offensive reference to break that harmony. The BJP is trying to communally exploit the issue," acting secretary of CPI(M) in Kerala, A Vijayaraghavan, said in a tweet.

Although he did not mention "narcotic jihad", the statement came after the opposition Congress accused the state government of remaining "a mute spectator" over the issue. Responding to Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan's allegations that the CPI(M) had tied up with the SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) to beat the Congress-led UDF in Kottayam’s Erattupetta, Vijayaraghavan said that the Congress had tied up with Jamaat-e-Islami to garner votes.

"Congress has no moral basis to criticise the government in this matter. They contested the last Assembly elections by garnering the votes of communal parties like Jamaat-e-Islami. Even the Leader of Opposition got elected to the Assembly, after enjoying such advantages", the CPI(M) leader said.

Read: ‘Don’t create communal divide:’ Kerala Bishop’s remark on ‘narco jihad’ draws flak

Earlier in the day, Satheesan urged the state government to convene an all-party meeting to find a "permanent solution" to end the row over the 'narcotic jihad' remark by the Bishop and accused it of remaining a "mute spectator" while both the Christian and Muslim communities were heading towards a conflict. "The government should be ready to convene an all-party meeting, with all the concerned leaders from both the communities, and find a permanent solution to the issue. There are those who are waiting to use the opportunity to burn Kerala down to ashes. We repeatedly request everyone not to fall into their trap," he added.

The opposition leader urged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to go through social media posts on the 'narcotic jihad' remark by the Catholic priest and asked what his government, intelligence department and the cyber cell of the police were doing when vested interests were trying to trigger communal clashes over it. Stating that the Congress had taken a strong stand in the issue to prevent clashes between the two communities. He said they would support any government endeavour to end the tension.

Meanwhile, BJP leader PK Krishnadas, who met the Bishop in Pala on Tuesday, alleged that the Congress and the CPI(M) were taking a position in favour of extremist elements creating trouble in society, instead of addressing the “issue” raised by the senior Catholic priest.

Also read: Nuns in Kerala stage walkout protesting priest's speech against Muslims

(With PTI inputs)

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