The PC George case: many points to ponder

By P.Sreekumaran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala will do all it can to thwart any attempt to tear the fabric of community friendship and effect religious polarization. This is the unequivocal message emanating from the arrest and subsequent release of Kerala Janapaksham leader PC George for recently making vicious comments against the Muslim community at Ananthapuri Mahasammelanam.

The FIR slapped IPC section 153(a) which deals with causing enmity between communities by words – spoken as well as written. It provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for the non-bailable offence. The case was closed following receipt of complaints, including one from the Muslim Youth League (MYL). Addressing the meeting, George had said that Muslim hoteliers were adding drugs to the tea they served to make people from other communities impotent! He had also said that NRI businessman MA Yusufali was setting up malls in Hindu-majority areas to steal money from the community. In his complaint, MYL State Chairman PK Firoz said the allegations raised by George were of a serious nature, adding that strict action against such offensive remarks was essential to maintain law and order. and community harmony.

The CPI(M) also condemned George’s remarks. In a state known for its community friendship, speeches by the likes of George would create a community divide. The statement released by the Secretary of State called on George to retract the remark and issue a public apology. Kerala Naduvathul Mujahideen Secretary of State Abdul Majid Swalahi said George was determined to appease the majority community ahead of the assembly elections. The video of the speech, he said, would be used by the RSS and the People’s Front of India (PFI) to stir up communal passions. Secular forces must unite to thwart such a sinister attempt to disturb communal friendship in the state, he added.

That George is in no mood to apologize is clear from statements he made after being released on bail. Bail had been granted to him on the condition that he not utter hate speech. But his comments to the press clearly violated bail conditions. Speaking to reporters, George said he stood by what he told the sammelan. In fact, the state government decided to ask the court to void the bail and seek to overturn the bail order issued by the magistrate.

The government’s claim is that bail was granted to George without hearing from the state. The magistrate who had granted bail had indicated that the deputy attorney general was not available when the accused was brought before her. The state, however, said he was denied his right to be heard. The court did not appreciate the seriousness of the alleged offense and the specific situations of the case. The court should have issued a provisional bond and released the case to be heard another day. Failure to do so deprived the state of a chance to oppose the bail plea. Also, George should not have been allowed to travel in a private vehicle. It sent the wrong message.

Predictably, all political parties except the BJP condemned George’s hate speech. The BJP has, for obvious reasons, chosen to support George. The BJP clearly sees in George’s speech an opportunity for religious polarization. The BJP also seems to think that with his links to the Christian community in central Kerala, George could help the party to establish itself more firmly in the community. It may be mentioned that the BJP has made determined attempts to make inroads into the Christian community ahead of the National Assembly elections. It’s another matter that his efforts haven’t had much success so far. Hence his attempt to use the George episode to curry favor with the Christian community. But the BJP must realize that George does not have much influence among Christian denominations. George’s hate speech is attributed to the fact that the Muslim community voted against him in assembly elections, which resulted in his defeat in his constituency of Erattupetta in Kottayam district.

George, by the way, has been a vocal critic of the issue of “love jihad”, a pet of the BJP against the Muslim community. The BJP believes that with George’s help, the party can tap into the anger of part of the Christian community against Muslims over love jihad. Political observers see a definite pattern and a conspiracy in George’s decision to use a Sangh Parivar platform to make provocative speeches against Muslims. For its part, the BJP is using George, who it says is being harassed by the two Islamic fundamentalist parties and the CPI(M) for his outspokenness against Muslims.

It remains to be seen whether the BJP’s strategy will pay the dividends the party expects in future election battles. There is a school of thought that strongly believes that George simply does not have the clout to secure rich electoral rewards for the BJP. It is also a fact that George moved towards the BJP after his failed attempts to build bridges of understanding with the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front ( UDF) run by Congress.

Observers of Kerala’s political landscape believe that the BJP’s association and support with PC George could prove counterproductive. George’s outbursts are also interpreted as a desperate attempt by a politician to remain politically relevant. The BJP is also trying to regain the ground it has lost since the parliamentary elections by securing a firmer footing in the pockets where Christian voters have a decisive say. The party knows that without Christian support, it cannot hope for a better performance in the electoral battle, especially in central Kerala. During the last legislative elections, the CPI(M) had foiled the forces of Hindutva by succeeding in securing the support of the Kerala Congress(M) led by Jose K Mani.

The BJP is keen to turn the tide against the CPI(M) in the parliamentary elections of 20224. But the path chosen by the sangh parivar is unlikely to produce the expected results. The BJP-RSS grouping will have to make amends for the excesses against the Christian community in various parts of the country. It’s easier said than done. So far, there is no indication that there is a serious rethink among Christian voters to set their sights on the BJP. There are signs that the BJP’s latest gamble to win over the Christian community is unlikely to bear fruit. Hindutva forces have miles to go before they can hope for a stronger presence in Kerala, known as a stronghold of secular forces. (API Service)

The post The PC George Case: Many Points To Ponder first appeared on IPA Newspack.

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