Kerala: Left leader E A Sankaran returns to Congress, while Church leaders meet RSS

Divisions within political sides, Left, Right, Centre, have slowly begun to come into the public eye as states readies for polls


Seat allocation politics have begun in earnest in Kerala, however, even at this stage the crossing over of political divides is likely to add fuel to communal politics. Divisions within political sides, Left, Right, Centre, have slowly begun to come into the public eye. Potential candidates are making their opinions heard, and those who feel unheard are no longer demure about switching parties. 

The latest to quit the Left, and join the Congress is E A Sankaran, who had reportedly put up a Facebook post stating that he quit CPM. According to news reports, Sankaran had stated that he “quit CPM after I C Balakrishnan promised to field him in Sultan Bathery as Congress candidate…” However, he later denied writing it.

Sankaran’s move is important as he is the state secretary of the pro-CPM tribal outfit Adivasi Kshema Samithi (AKS), he is also the national vice chairman of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, and CPM Pulpally area committee member, stated news reports. According to a report in the Mathrubhumi, Sankaran was the LDF candidate in Sultan Bathery constituency in the 2011 assembly election. 

However, the CPM district committee has made it known that “Sankaran was ousted from the party for indulging in anti-party activities” stated news reports. Sankaran was in the Congress, before he joined CPM. According to news reports Sankaran was given many posts in the party and according to the district committee sources quoted by the local media, “Sankaran betrayed the party due to his opportunist policies and greed for power.”

Meanwhile the Right Wing has been busy wooing the Church leaders. According to a report in The Telegraph, Sangh leaders met the Church leaders, reportedly to “settle an old property dispute”. However observers of Kerala politics have also read this as the Sangh’s move to develop a relationship with influential church leaders, which can then help the Bharatiya Janata Party reap rich rewards in the upcoming Assembly elections. 

According to the Telegraph, Bishops and other clergymen from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church met RSS joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya at the organisation’s office in Kochi on Wednesday. This meeting was reportedly on an invitation from the Sangh. Two months ago, the church leaders had also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi. That meeting had fueled many discussions on the growing relationship between politics and religion in Kerala.

The agenda of seeking a possible solution to a century-old property dispute between the two denominations is just the tip of the political iceberg it appears. The Sangh has so far not been too successful in wooing the Christian electorate to align with right wing parties. Christians who form 20 percent of the 3.5 crore population of the state, Muslims make up another 30 per cent, reported TT.

According to the news report, this property dispute had peaked when in 2017 the Supreme Court ordered the Jacobites to hand over 1,064 of 1,700 churches to the Orthodox Church. While the Jacobites maintained that they had built the churches, the numerically fewer but politically more powerful Orthodox Church refused to budge.

The Telegraph quoted Father Sleeba Paul, trustee of priests of the Jacobite Syrian Church who was among those who met Vaidya, saying his Church would back the BJP if it found a remedy to the dispute, “The LDF (ruling Left Democratic Front) failed, while the UDF (Congress-led United Democratic Front) ignored us but promised to pass a law on the Sabarimala women’s entry issue. So if the BJP comes to our help we will support them.” 


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