New LDF partner Jose K Mani’s comments on a TV show have created a huge political row in Kerala. On Sunday, Jose K Mani, who heads the Kerala Congress (Mani) Jose faction, said that if there are concerns around ‘love jihad,’ they should be addressed.
Jose K Mani did not reject the theory of 'love jihad' probably in a bid to appease a section of Christian voters, however, the statement was in direct contrast to the Left’s stand rejecting the theory. But with Left leaders reacting sharply to his comments, by Monday, Jose K Mani chose to withdraw his statement and said that his stand is the same as LDF’s.
“There is an issue here ('love jihad'). If there is an apprehension in the public, it should be studied. If this is in front of the public, there should be clarity. When these doubts are getting repeated, it has to be addressed again,” he had said in an interview to Manorama News.
The 'love jihad' bogey is used by the BJP, members of the Sangh and even a few churches in Kerala to propogate the theory that Muslim men marry Hindu or Christian women with malafide intentions.
Kanam Rajendran, CPI leader, reacted to Jose K Mani’s statement and said, “LDF has made its stand clear in its manifesto. What Jose K Mani said is his personal opinion. Love jihad is a term used by communal forces.”
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, meanwhile, refused to comment on Jose K Mani’s comments.
The Christian leadership in Kerala, which has moved closer to the BJP in recent times, has also been a proponent of the 'love jihad' theory and alleged that women were being forcibly converted.
Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) extended its support to Jose K Mani and said that mainstream political parties need to address the issue seriously.
“We are happy that Jose K Mani has made this sensible point. The Chief Minister says that there is no 'love jihad,' but that’s part of his political agenda. People and churches are concerned about this,” Fr Jacob Palakkappally, KCBC spokesperson, told the media.
The BJP in Kerala has been using the term 'love jihad' to attract both Hindu and Christian voters, party chief K Surendran went to the extent of saying that Christians and Hindus should be united in this front.
The party supported Jose K Mani. “Jose K Mani represented the interests of Christians in Kerala. The CPI(M) and Congress have bowed their heads to the agenda of the Indian Muslim League,” BJP leader V Muraleedharan said.
Indian Union of Muslim League veteran ET Muhammed Basheer, meanwhile, condemned the comments made by Jose K Mani.
“He has reached a wrong place where anyone can say anything. To say such a thing in a place like Kerala shows lack of political ethics,” IUML leader Muhammed Basheer said.