Fallout from “narcotic jihad” demand: vote bank slips, Congress turns to government to bridge gap

With its Muslim-Christian vote bank facing polarization after Catholic Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt’s “jihadist narcotics” claim, the Kerala Congress is looking to the state government to bridge the divide between the two communities.

On Tuesday, Assembly opposition leader VD Satheesan called on Pinarayi Vijayan’s government to call a meeting of religious leaders and political party leaders.

“We don’t want to see the situation get worse. The government is a silent witness when tension rises between the two communities, ”he said. “Isn’t the Chief Minister aware of the hate campaign on social media platforms?” This is an issue that requires urgent government attention.

Last Wednesday, Kallarangatt said in a sermon that the “jihad of narcotics” makes non-Muslims, especially young people, addicted to drugs.

What makes Congress nervous is that the party-led UDF will have to bear the political fallout of growing mistrust between the two minority communities following this statement.

The two communities have been the backbone of the UDF. In the last assembly elections, however, the alleged feelings against Muslims among a section of Christians, especially Catholics, were seen as one of the factors that led to the defeat of the UDF in many. headquarters in central Kerala, ultimately helping the CPI (M)-led LDF to retain power.

The death of the veteran of the regional Christian party KM Mani, associated with the exit of his Kerala Congress (M) from the UDF, is also considered to have contributed to the alienation of the Christian community.

In addition, the recent change of guard at the party’s organizational and parliamentary leadership in Kerala, which led to the rise of Satheesan and the party’s head of state unity, K Sudhakaran, has returned a Christian face. longtime – former CM Oommen Chandy – in the background. . Prior to Chandy, AK party veteran Antony had held this post.

From now on, it is up to the Sudhakaran-Satheesan duo to keep the bank of Christian votes with the party.

Another factor that made the Congress anxious and indirectly led to pressure on the government to negotiate peace between the communities, is the intervention of the BJP as champion of the cause of the Church – the saffron party. courting the central bank of Kerala’s Christian vote. . After Kallarangatt’s statements sparked criticism and protests from various quarters, the BJP immediately came to his support.

Sensing the danger, Congress warned the Church not to fall prey to “Sangh’s agenda.”

The timing of the declaration of “narco jihad” could not have been worse for the State Congress, at a time when UDF leaders were negotiating peace between religious leaders of the two communities.

Syed Sadiqali Shihab Thangal, a high-level member of the IUML committee, said his party had already called for restraint on both sides. “We, along with other Muslim organizations, are also looking for a dialogue with the Christian side,” he said.

Within the LDF, the Kerala Congress (M), which had raised the question of the “jihad of love” in the run-up to the legislative elections, has already supported the bishop on the declarations of narcotic jihad. Its president Jose K Mani said that in evoking the jihad of narcotics, the bishop urged the faithful to be vigilant against social evils.