Is Left govt in Kerala playing the Right tune to cater to state’s hyper nationalists?

Criticism pours in for the state government’s targeting of those who supposedly dishonour the national anthem.
Is Left govt in Kerala playing the Right tune to cater to state’s hyper nationalists?
Is Left govt in Kerala playing the Right tune to cater to state’s hyper nationalists?

Left sympathizers in Kerala are a surprised lot these days with the recent police action against writer and theatre artist Kamal C Chavara for his alleged insult of the national anthem.

The writer was taken into custody from Kozhikode on Sunday (and reportedly let off later) based on a complaint filed by Yuva Morcha –BJP Youth Wing. The saffronists were reportedly outraged by certain sections in Kamal’s book ‘Smashanangaludeh Nottupusthakam’ –published in 2015- that they found insulting to the national anthem.

This came just a few days after eleven delegates at the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram were taken into custody and later released on bail for not standing up while the anthem was being played.

Speaking to The News Minute, veteran Left thinker and political analyst BRP Bhaskar said he feels that the LDF government under Pinarayi Vijayan has chosen to sing the wrong tune this time:

"Many people in Kerala and outside are surprised that the government of Kerala under the aegis of the LDF is acting in a manner similar to that of BJP-led state governments elsewhere in the country. I personally do not think these protesters are showing disrespect to the national anthem. They are registering their protest against the manner in which how they are forced to prove their patriotism.”

According to Bhaskar, it was in 1960s after the Indo-China war that the Indian government brought this idea of respecting the national anthem and the national flag into play, in order to boost nationalism. 

But within a few years, it fizzled out, once the government realized that it was causing unintended objections and disrespect. At the time, the anthem was sung after the movie, and people were in a hurry to leave the cinema-hall.

“They have now found a solution to this by playing the anthem before the movie begins!” Bhaskar quips.

This -he believes- is actually against government rules that say the national anthem should not be played in a closed room.

“It is unfortunate that the state government seems to acting unduly based on complaints from Hindutva elements. The LDF is in an appeasing mode to please Hindu and Muslim communalism, by celebrating Sree Krishna Jayanti as well as the Prophet's birthday,” says Bhaskar.

The Supreme Court earlier ruling ordering the mandatory playing of the national anthem before screening of movies in theatres had come in for flak from various quarters.

Former MP and noted lawyer and social commentator Dr. Sebastian Paul believes that the Left government in Kerala seems to be going overboard in their enthusiasm to implement the SC ruling.

“The Kerala government is exhibiting unnecessary and unwanted enthusiasm in the matter. It is no doubt duty-bound to implement the Sc order, but it is now going beyond its realm with the state police trying to ascertain the people’s patriotism levels,” Paul avers.

This –Paul reiterates- is a clear Sangh Parivar agenda, wherein even the progressive and democratic forces are falling into its trap. “It cannot be left to the police to oversee patriotism,” Paul insists.

"Nobody is against the national anthem or national symbols. But we live in a liberal country. People have the right to object and that should be tolerated. The national anthem ruling is a forceful imposition of an impractical thing, without understanding the nuances of the context in which law should be applied.

According to me, the court should not have considered such cases. We don't have to assume that the LDF is trying to follow an extreme right path. All political parties have taken the stand to abide the SC decision," adds D Dhanuraj -political analyst and Chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Research.

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