‘We do not want votes from the Sangh Parivar in Kerala’

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on March 21, 2019

Mullappally Ramachandran Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president   -  File photo

After hectic lobbying by two powerful groups — one headed by AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy and the other by Opposition leader in the State Assembly Ramesh Chennithala — the Congress in Kerala selected the candidates this week. The high command’s man in the State, State chief Mullappally Ramachandran had a tough time mediating between the warring groups. He told BusinessLine that the Congress sees no harm in sharing the stage with the Left in fighting the BJP. In Kerala, however, both will fight against each other. Excerpts :

What is the Congress’ key political theme in Kerala ?

The key theme we have taken up during this election is the fight against the fascist rule of Narendra Modi. Under any circumstances, we want to pull down this government by defeating the BJP and ensuring that a secular government is formed at the Centre after the Lok Sabha elections. In Kerala too, this is the key plank on which we are fighting elections.

But in Kerala, the Left seems to be your main enemy, while in Delhi, the Left and the Congress share the same platform against the BJP...

There is a peculiar situation in Kerala. The main fight in Kerala is between the CPI(M) and the Congress. That being the case, we cannot have an electoral understanding in Kerala. But we do not see any reason for not sharing a secular and democratic platform at the national level to fight Narendra Modi.

Were the Congress and the BJP were on the same page on the issue of Sabarimala?

Not at all. Right from the beginning, I have been saying that Sabarimala should not be made a political issue. It is not a political weapon. The issue is confined to the faith of the devotees. It is an emotional issue and the Congress has taken a consistent stand on such issues all through its history.

We never disturbed the traditions or customs of believers. This is what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had taught us. He was an agnostic person, but even he said he will fight to protect the right of a believer to go to a place of worship that he or she prefers to visit. We took this very stand on the question of Sabarimala too.

We looked at that issue from a circular point of view. India is a pluralistic society and we cannot harm the feelings of believers. We have to take them into confidence.

How do you see the charge by the Left that the Congress has entered into a secret pact with the BJP in Kerala, and that you delayed your candidates list to suit the Sangh Parivar’s interests?

There is absolutely no understanding. The list was not at all delayed. There were certain questions on the candidates for two constituencies. We took some time to complete the discussions in these two constituencies. It was not a delay, but yes, we could have announced the list a bit earlier. I could not complete the formalities as per the schedule.

We never had any understanding in the past — or even now — with the Sangh Parivar or any such communal forces. I can tell you confidently that under my leadership no such understanding will take place in Kerala.

Never ever we will have any understanding with them and we do not want even a single vote from them.

Published on March 21, 2019

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