The statement by Kerala Congress (Mani group) there the issue whether 'love jihad' is happening in Kerala is to be examined, has ruffled the feathers of many political quarters though in different directions.
While the remark has not gone down well with the Left wing parties in general, and the CPI, the second largest party in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in particular, some Christian church quarters have expressed satisfaction to an extent that their contention has found some votaries in the current ruling front.
Jose K Mani, leader of the KC (M), who fell out with the erstwhile chairman of the party PJ Joseph and succeeded in ousting the latter from the 'parent' party, soon crossed over to the Left front, forgetting the deep differences of the party led by his father late KM Mani, with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM). Paradoxically, it was the agitation againt Mani's alleged corruption scandals at the fag end of the previous 2011 UDF government that marked the rivalries and accentuated to the LDF government's downfall with a landslide victory for the LDF in the 2016 state assembly election.
However, that is history now and Jose K Mani's faction is a darling of the CPM mainly due to the segment of Kerala Congress votes that will accrue to the Left front both from the Christian community, which KC(M) represents and the party ranks.
However, Kanam Rajendran, the state secretary of the CPI, has given vent to the Left front's frown on Jose Mani's comment regarding love jihad. Kanam was quick to distance the party from the accusation and said that Jose's remark does not represent the Left stand. He went on to say that the love jihad allegation belongs more to religious fundamentalists, and pointed out that in India an adult can marry any one of one's choice and the marriage can be conducted either according to religious faith or outside of it - which is quite common in the country.
At the bottom of the debate is a perception deliberately promoted chiefly by sangh parivar leadership and peripherally by a section of the church leadership; the latter implicitly support the sangh parivar contention, but also contends that many of the females allegedly involved in inter-religious marriages are from Christians too.Thus Kerala Catholics Bishops' Conference (KCBC) leadership has expressed satisfaction with Jose K Mani's 'creative' response to the love jihad issue. KCBC spokesman Father Jacob Palakkappilli remarked that the body is happy that he has said it.
He said that love jihad is as clear as daylight and called upon CPM and other mainstream political parties to make their stand clear. He alleged that the chief minister's statement denying the existence of love jihad is probably part of a political agenda, and the church and the epublic are concerned about love jihad; it is upto the government and political parties to allay them, Father Jacob added.
Meanwhile, Jose K Mani has come out with a push-back response apparently aimed at damage control. He said to the media that his and his party's stand on love jihad is the same as that of the Left front.
The Kerala Congress (M) leader's clarification assumes significance in the backdrop of the disapproval of his unwarranted comment expressed by Left leaders, mainly CPI leader Kanam Rajendran. Other Left leaders also tended to disown Jose's pronouncement. Jose also tried to change tack insisting that the theme meriting discussion now is development and not love jihad.