Kerala ruling and opposition parties come together to protest against CAA
Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram witnessed a massive protest organised jointly by the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front and the opposing Congress-led United Democratic Front, demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, the protest organised at the historic Martyr’s Column at Palayam in the city was a show of strength as well, as people gathered in large numbers at the venue, some holding placards. The hunger strike protest lasted from morning to noon.
The CM, who has been assertive in his stand that the Act will not be implemented in Kerala, once again vehemently attacked the BJP government at the Centre, narrating the history of the nation and talking about how its inclusiveness eventually led to winning the freedom struggle.
On his stand that CAA will not be implemented, Pinarayi Vijayan has said that by saying so he is not breaching oath of office but in fact protecting the oath.
“The county has been facing a very severe crisis which has been created by the union government, prompted by the Sangh Parivar agenda of a non-secular country. The concept of the nation of India has been created by the people. The country had been inclusive in accepting diverse people like the Mughals, the Persians, and the Turks, which has been part of historic progress. And the diversity of the nation was reflected in the national movement, the freedom struggle. Those who took part in the struggle dreamed of freedom from which modern India emerged,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.
“The constitution provides rights to people of all religions and those who don’t believe in any religion to live in the country. Allowing the people of Afghanistan in the CAA while excluding the people of other nations that share boundaries with India is not acceptable,” he said.
Throughout his speech, the CM criticised the Sangh Parivar and the RSS.
“A nation becomes a religious one when citizenship is based on religion. And it’s the Sangh Parivar that shows affinity towards that agenda,” he said.
Pinarayi Vijayan also said that those who present the CAA as an issue affecting a particular community are in effect giving a red carpet to the Sangh Parivar, adding that they should be identified and isolated. This could be an apparent reference to the hartal called for by a few Dalit and Muslim organisations against the CAA on Tuesday.
While the protest was happening, several outfits affiliated to both the Left and Opposition fronts, including students’ organisations, marched outside the venue raising slogans against the CAA.
'Atmosphere of fear': Chennithala
Leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, spoke after the CM. “After independence, our country is going through one of its darkest times again. Our gathering is a sign of a strong protest against it. Beyond political differences, it is a gathering against the tendencies of fear and dictatorship that’s growing in the country. The (central) government’s attitude has been to suppress the people’s power to protest and react. The atmosphere of fear exists across the country because of the central government’s anti-democratic actions. The media is afraid. Writers are afraid. The people who wish to uphold the values of the country are afraid. They wish to send the people who speak against the government to other planets,” he said.
Saying that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was terrible (post the abrogation of Article 370), Chennithala lamented that the government still claims everything is peaceful.
“The media in Jammu and Kashmir are not writing. The Chief Editor of the Assam newspaper Sentinel told me that they couldn’t get the news to reach people. There are only the corporate-controlled media serving the government. Farooq Abdullah, former CM of J&K and my friend – how many days has it been since he saw sunlight? He (and other leaders of the state) have been under house arrest for long. Since the prisons in J&K are getting full, they are sending people to prisons in Uttar Pradesh. Indian parliamentarians are not allowed to enter J&K. Even with a court order, they can only go where the police allow them to. After all this, they say it is peaceful here. What is this freedom, what is this democracy?” he asked.
Several political leaders, social and cultural figures were also part of the protest. Everyone who spoke shared the common feeling that ‘we are united and should stay united’.
It’s a do-or-die situation, said writer Padmanabhan. Swami Sandeepananda Giri said that the India visualised by Swami Vivekananda was not the India envisaged by the RSS. Actor KPAC Lalitha said that we all are one and that we should stay united. Indian Union Muslim League leader MK Muneer said that the country belongs to them too: “We were born here and we will die here”.
Other prominent figures who took part in the protest include Kanthapuram, Sivakumar, Vijayaraghavan, PJ Joseph, Chandrasekhar, Saseendran, Krishnan Kutty, Kadannappally, Anoop Jacob, Pannyan Raveendran, Prakash, KK Shailaja, Mercykutty Amma, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Sunil Kumar and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.