HomePoliticsInvite to top Cong brass to Ayodhya irks party in Kerala 

Invite to top Cong brass to Ayodhya irks party in Kerala 

X: @the_news_21

Thiruvananthapuram: The dilemma of the Congress’s central leadership over the invite to the Ayodhya temple consecration ceremony has landed the party’s Kerala unit in a quandary. Kerala is one of the few states where the Congress stands to make handsome gains in the Lok Sabha (LS) polls, just a few months away.  

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), in which the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is the second largest partner, swept the 2019 LS polls lifting 19 out of 20 seats up for grab, dealing a crushing blow to the CPI(M)-controlled Left Democratic Front (LDF). In the alliance, the Congress’s own tally was an impressive 15.

 Significantly, the party icon Rahul Gandhi was elected the house from the Wayanad LS seat in north Kerala. True, the LDF secured a back-to-back mandate in the state Assembly polls in 2021. But Kerala has a history of the electorate favouring the Congress-led bloc in the LS polls more often than not in the last several decades. 

The high presence of the Muslim and Christian minorities, who have a preference for the grand old party when it comes to the central rule, is the prime reason for this, more than any other political choice. The Ayodhya tangle came up when the Congress was brimming with confidence of repeating the 2019 feat. The party capsule -makers had even gone to town with the 20/20 slogan, eyeing to snatch the lone seat slipped out of its hand by a wafer-thin margin last time. 

The party was hoping to cash in on the all round disenchantment with the LDF rule. The state leadership also appeared confident of retaining the minority support. That fact that both the Congress and the Left are on the same boat at the national level as INDIA bloc partners matters the leas in the state. The Congress also did not take seriously the BJP’s moves to garner support of a section of the Christian community by wooing the church heads. 

The Ayodhya invite to the party top brass, however, has thrown the spanner in the Congress’s work in Kerala. If the party’s top invitees to the big ticket event include Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and AICC president Mallikarjuna Kharge. If they make their presence at the ceremony at Ayodhya that could seriously dent the Muslim community’s trust in the party, with adverse political consequence. 

On the other side of the fence, If they turn down the invite it could further erode the party’s base in the Hindi heartland states. Having fallen between two stools, it would be difficult for the grand old party to come out with a credible narrative either way. The IUML leaders have already voiced reservation over the Congress leaders attending the Ayodhya event. They have urged the party leaders to assert their secular credentials and steer clear of the Sangh Parivar-BJP trap. 

 The League leaders also fear that the party would lose the support of a sizeable section of the Muslim community if the party continues to be an ally of the Congress despite its leaders attending the temple consecration ceremony. Significantly, IUML is a critical factor in the Wayanad LS seat, from where Rahul Gandhi is expected to seek a fresh mandate. Half the assembly seats forming the Wayanad LS constituency lie in Muslim-dominated Malappuram district. 

 The stand of the some of the influential non-political Muslim outfits have been even sharper. They have warned the Congress that it would have to face serious political consequences if the party leaders attend the Ayodhya event. Initially, many Congress leaders in Kerala had openly come out against the party top brass going to Ayodhya on January 22. Considering the sensitivity of the issue and its national fallout, the party central leadership later asked them to refrain from making public statements. 

This development has elated the LDF, which sniffs in the issue a rewarding electoral plank against the UDF, which is historically over dependent on minority support. The CPI(M)’s propaganda machine has gone on an overdrive blaring that the Congress’s dilly dallying over the issue exposed its inability to stand up and take the BJP and the Hindutva forces head on.

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N Muraleedharan
N Muraleedharan
Senior Journalist from Kerala. Worked with leading news agency Press Trust of India. He is regular columnist and writes on politics of Kerala and National Politics.

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