‘We just cannot accept the interference of the government in matters concerning religion and faith.’
The Sabarimala agitation has now moved to the Kerala state assembly, with the war of words between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala reaching a crescendo.
Chennithala announced that three MLAs from the Congress-led United Democratic Front — V S Sivakumar (Congress), Parakkal Abdullah (Indian Union Muslim League) and N Jayaraj (Kerala Congress-Mani) — would observe a satyagraha at the entrance of the House till the government withdrew the imposition of Section 144 at Sabarimala.
While Vijayan alleges a collusion between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Congress alleges there is an understanding between the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist and the BJP-RSS.
“You cannot change religious beliefs or faith through one court verdict or one decision,” Parakkal Abdullah, the IUML MLA from Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode, north Kerala, tells Rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier.
You are one of the MLAs on satyagraha now. Is the Muslim League stand the same as that of the UDF?
Of course, we are with the UDF on the Sabarimala issue. Muslim League is with the believers of religion and God.
Muslim League has no other stand. Whether it is Sabarimala or any other temple or a mosque, we are of the opinion that in matters concerning religion, it is not the government that has the authority to take a decision.
Even if the highest court has come out with a verdict, it is the government’s duty to meet all the religious heads and come to a consensus.
We just cannot accept the interference of the government in matters concerning religion and faith.
Who should take decisions on religious matters? The court or the people concerned with the religion?
Of course, it has to be the pandits and acharyas from the religion and nobody else. That has been our history till now.
Nobody has interfered with religious matters so far. We have so many religions in our country, and the Constitution has given us the rights to practise the religion each individual believes in.
What the Communist party is doing right now is destroying everything connected with religion as they are against all religions.
They are atheists and do not believe in god. Communists describe religion as a drug that destroys human beings.
What Pinarayi Vijayan is doing right now is trying to implement the Communist manifesto using Sabarimala.
Look at the irony. When the court verdict said women of all ages could go to Sabarimala and the Communist government tried to implement the order in haste, what did the women of Kerala do?
Did they get ready to go to Sabarimala? No. Instead, thousands and thousands of women came on to the streets and said they did not want to go.
They said nobody should touch their religious beliefs. Why? It is a matter of faith for the people.
What the Communists should understand is it is not the court or the government who should take decisions on matters concerning faith.
Faith is very personal and nobody can interfere in a person’s faith.
When the Supreme Court verdict came, the Congress first welcomed it. Only after they saw the reaction of the people did they change their opinion. What do you have to say about it?
Even when the central leadership of the Congress welcomed it, the Kerala unit of the Congress did not support the verdict. They said they could never support the verdict.
As far as Muslim League is concerned, we have always been with the believers.
So, the spontaneous outburst of ordinary women did not surprise us at all. We have seen so many such outbursts in India.
Whenever somebody tried to interfere with religious matters, people have rebelled.
There are reports of some Muslim women trying to enter mosques…
That’s why we are saying it is not for the courts or the government or the political parties to decide matters relating to religion. There are many learned people in every religion. Let them take decisions on these issues.
Everybody should understand that faith did not happen yesterday or today; faith has been part of human life from the time they are born on Earth.
You cannot change religious beliefs or faith through one court verdict or one decision.
It is foolish on the part of some administrators to think that they can change everything overnight.
The chief minister is firm in his decision that he will implement the court verdict.
He will never be able to do it as the people of Kerala will never agree with him or let him do it.
He cannot interfere with the beliefs of one community in the name of reformation.
He thinks only the Communists have a role to play in the reformation of the state.
No. Everybody, every community, the Hindus, the Christians, and the Muslims have a role in it.
What the CPM is doing right now is creating a wedge between various religious communities and this is dangerous.
Is the satyagraha against the strong stand taken by the chief minister?
Yes, we are against the attitude of the chief minister.
As you know, 144 has been imposed at Sabarimala, a religious place where millions of devotees from all over south India come.
We want the government to withdraw Section 144 immediately. That’s our major demand.
We cannot accept prohibitory orders in a religious place where so many devotees come to pray.
Issuing prohibitory orders in a religious place is a dangerous trend and it is hurting the believers, and we can never accept this.
So, we will not end our satyagraha till the government withdraws the prohibitory orders.
But the chief minister is firm in his stand…
Yes, he says he will not withdraw the prohibitory orders.
The assembly is in session till the 13th and till then we will continue our satyagraha in front of the House. We will take a decision on what to do after that.
He thinks that he can stop the devotees with the help of the police, but he will not be successful.
I want to say something else also. All this is a kind of adjustment between the BJP and the CPM.
How is it an adjustment between the BJP and the CPM?
See, the whole issue has become communal and it is also a religious issue.
In that way, it will help the BJP. The CPM thinks by strengthening the BJP, the Congress will weaken which will be an advantage for the CPM.
This is the truth behind the entire story. Politics is what drives the whole thing; nothing else.
While you are on a satyagraha, the chief minister is planning to have a women’s wall along the entire length of Kerala on January 1.
The UDF is not going to let him do that.
We are of the opinion that he is in fact ridiculing and insulting women and our decision is to stop him from doing so.
He should also understand that there are more believers in this state and he will never be successful in whatever he does against beliefs and faith.
The UDF is totally against what Pinarayi Vijayan is doing.
Not only the UDF, but a CPM stalwart like V S Achuthanandan also remarked that what the government is doing is against Communism.