The country's entry into the new year – and the new decade – raises anxieties as much as hopes. Those whose backs have been broken by the lopsided 'economic reforms' and those who lie silenced behind the iron curtain of fascism, saw the onth of December being given a farewell with a new wound of religious division created by the Modi government. It looks certain that if this situation is let continue, the picture is not going to be bright at all. But in the same December, something else happened. A large section of people, breaking the silence imposed by the rulers, have come out in protest, making it mature into a popular agitation, which gives hope to the times to come. The protest strikes launched by the student movements in Delhi and northeastern states against the citizenship law has now developed into a spirited stir against the murder of democracy by the central government.
The legislative assembly of Kerala has in a most creative manner come out in solidarity with the three-week old protests happening in the national capital, even defying the bitterest cold of the century and surviving police raj. The state of Kerala has much to celebrate for being the first to have passed a resolution demanding repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that erodes the very essence of the Constitution. The ruling and opposition parties alike deserve kudos for ensuring the support of every member of the house - barring the lone member from the BJP - for passing the motion. And through this step, the state has also set a model for other states who have taken a similar and strong position against CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The government and the parties represented in the state assembly, had even earlier made clear their stances about CAA. Kerala is one of the states that suspended all measures regarding National Population Register (NPR) when it found substance in the argument that collection of data for NPR will be a precursor of the preparation of NCR, declared by union home minister Amit Shah. Except for sangh parivar outfits, no one here supports this 'alienation' legislation. The left parties in power and opposition parties are equally part of the protests happening at the national level too. Plus, the other parties of the state and civil society are also firm on the streets in unison against the legislation. In that sense, there has been a stiffly resistant consensu sin Kerala against CAA. From the moment the bill was passed in parliement, civil rights activists had been demanding a resolution, similar to the one passed now, should be moved in the assembly.
Viewed with this backdrop, there is little surprise in the resolution, but the message it sends out is huge and significant in the current scenario: a fact made clear in the speech by the chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan while moving the resolution. Our constitution was framed by incorporating in it the vision of unity in diversity founded on secularism, social justice and equality. This envisions an embrace and celebration of diversity. In such a land, making a bar for the followers of a particular faith and giving a higher priority to those following others, will be a blatant violation of the principle of equality enshrined in Part three of the Constitution. In this sense, no representative of the people, sworn in with a pledge of loyalty to the constitution, can accept CAA. And it was a firm declaration of this that was heard loud and clear during the assembly debate on the resolution.
However, the unity expressed in the house can be called 'enlightened politics' only when the same spectacle of oneness is visible outside the house too, which is what the people wish to see. Kerala is a political platform which can unite against the CAA in particular, and against the fascist government of Modi in general. But unfortunately, until now that has not become a reality. Even the 'joint strikes' that happen on certain occasions, do not find any continuity. And Kerala has seen what happened after the joint strike of ruling-opposition parties at the secretariat gate on 16 December. Not only that, in parallel there has also been a tendency to sideline such protests as are not organized by themselves but by other people's collectives.
This purely reactionary attitude will only dampen the march to a noble goal. The responsibility to probe why it happens so falls on none other than the mainstream parties. If the slogans heard within the house have to radiate and be echoed outside also, all the forces and people who took firm stances against the sangh parivar terrorism, have to be held close by both the ruling and opposition members. It will perfect itself into a lofty political message only when this unification of voices to uphold the Constitution inside the assembly spread all over the state. May this resolution of unity be the first step towards a progressive and mature political narrative, in the path strewn with hopes and apprehensions of the new decade!