Kerala chief whip in trouble for flagging off Modi event

The ‘Run for Unity’ marathon called by Gujarat Chief Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to drum up support for his pet ‘statue of unity’ project has fuelled disunity in Kerala’s ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

By T K Devasia

Published: Tue 17 Dec 2013, 12:23 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:22 PM

Dissent was stirred by P C George, government chief whip and vice-chairman of Kerala Congress (Mani), the third largest constituent of the UDF, by flagging off the marathon organised on the occasion of the 63rd death anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Kottayam on Sunday.

Most constituents of the ruling coalition and even a section of the KC (M) have taken strong exception to George’s action. What has upset them most is his action of waving a T-shirt with the image of Modi. Several leaders of the UDF have termed the action as an indirect support to Modi’s communal politics and demanded his immediate ouster from the government post.

Congress spokesman Pandalam Sudhakaran said George had forgotten that he was the chief whip of a government that upholds secular principles. By participating in the event aimed at boosting the popularity of Modi, George has crossed all the limits, he added.

Sudhakaran, a former state minister, has urged Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KC (M) leader K M Mani to take appropriate action against George, who has been causing headache to the UDF by criticising ministers and fellow leaders. George has lost his right to continue as chief whip after he shared the platform with the BJP.

KC (M) general secretary Antony Raju said that his party colleague’s participation in the event was against the party’s stand against communalism. He should have been careful while considering the invitation to attend the function of communal elements. Another party colleague and former MP Francis George also felt that George should have kept off the programme.

The government chief whip has justified his participation in the BJP programme saying that he had given his consent to flag off the marathon as he was a great admirer of Patel.

Even if extremists organise an event to honour Patel, I would take part in it, said George, who wore a saffron shawl along with other BJP leaders present at the event.

Taking note of the criticism unleashed against George, party leader and Finance Minister Mani said that the party will discuss the issue and take appropriate action. Curiously George’s controversial action has come days after he was asked in writing by Mani to show restraint in his public statements.

State BJP president V Muralidharan patted George for taking part in the function. He said that the party would welcome anybody who backs Modi.

The party’s decision to invite George for the function is considered politically significant in the light of the BJP’s attempt to woo the minorities, whom KC (M) represents. The party has been finding it hard to make inroads into the Christian belt in the absence of a tall Christian leader.

The National Democratic Alliance headed by BJP could win its first and only Lok Sabha seat in Kerala when a KC (M) rebel P C Thomas aligned with the coalition in the late 1990s. Thomas, who got a ministerial birth in the Vajpayee ministry, quit the NDA after it was voted out of power and joined the opposition Left Democratic Front.

The BJP has been rooting for a Christian ally since then. The party considers George as a potential ally as he has been highly critical of both the ruling and opposition front in the state. —

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