Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday rejected outright the "narcotic and love jihad" remarks by a Catholic Bishop, saying the southern state is a firm terrain of secularism and society would take a strong stand against those who try to upset it.
The statement by the Chief Minister came in the wake of repeated criticism by the opposition with regard to the alleged lack of steps being taken by his administration to assuage the concerns raised by a particular section of society in reference to the Pala Bishop's remarks.
Virtually inaugurating a CPI(M) Local Committee office building in Palakkad district, Vijayan came down heavily on Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt for his "narcotic jihad" remarks, saying such an expression should not have been used under any circumstances that came from any quarter.
Referring to his earlier statements at a press conference on the issue, the Chief Minister said, "I have termed it as unfortunate one day. I have said this should not have come from a person holding a high position as he holds."
Vijayan said the Bishop's statement was not taken seriously by the society.
"Not many people stood by it. This is Kerala, a firm terrain of secularism. Nobody should think that this can be upsetting. The society will take a firm stand against this kind of move from whichever quarter that come", he added.
The Chief Minister also criticised the "Love Jihad" statement by the Bishop, saying the Central government has informed the Parliament that no such things are happening in the country.
Bishop Kallarangatt had said recently that Christian girls were falling prey to the alleged love and narcotic jihad in Kerala and wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth.
Muslim organisations came out strongly against the Bishop's remarks urging him to withdraw it but the priest stood by his statement.
Earlier, speaking at the inauguration of the centenary of a historical student agitation at Travancore in 1921, Vijayan said the growing trend of equating social evils with some sections of society needs to be "nipped in the bud" as not doing so will only exacerbate the communal differences in society.
The Chief Minister said that those giving prominence to social evils or engaged in unlawful activities or acting against general public interests should not be clubbed with any particular section of society.
"Doing so will not strengthen societal or communal unity. Instead, it will only serve to exacerbate the communal differences in society," he added.
He further said that glorifying terror organisations or equating them with symbols of freedom struggles would "weaken the communal harmony in society and endanger our freedom."
On Sree Narayana Guru's death anniversary, Vijayan referred to the sage's teachings to rise above and beyond caste and religion and said that people should pledge to oppose those forces which use religion and caste as "weapons" to divide society on communal lines.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister, in a Facebook post, said that narrow interests should not be allowed to undermine our unity as no religion or a nation is greater than man.His remark came on the occasion of Sree Narayana Guru's death anniversary.
Hailing the contribution of Guru in transforming Kerala as a modern society, he said the obstacles in the path of becoming a community as envisioned by the sage were racist ideology and the remnants of the caste system, which are still strong enough to "embarrass us".
Vijayan, in his Facebook post, also said that people ought to "proclaim out loud that a religion and a nation are not greater than man. No narrow interests can be allowed to undermine our unity".
"...let us pledge on this day that we will stand together for the common good of the country. May that unity take our country to new heights," he said, adding that we have to go a long way to fulfil Guru's dream.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan also tweeted a message on the occasion, saying "My pranams to #SreeNarayanaGuru, on his Samadhi day. #Guru placed the human being at the centre of all existence, and advocated self improvement by individuals as the only hope for society and the world."
The Chief Minister, in his post, also said that the Guru gave priority to the essence of man above all else and was critical of Brahmanism and the ideas of sectarianism, which are the basis of the caste-feudal system.