Invoking social reformer’s legacy, Sonia takes on BJP

RSTV Bureau
Thiruvananthapuram : Congress president Sonia Gandhi receiving from Kerala Cultural Affairs Minister KC Joseph (left) the transcript of Mahatma Gandhi's speech on 13th March 1925 at Sivagiri Mutt in Varkala regarding Vaikom Satyagraha, at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. Kerala CM Oommen Chandy is also seen.  Photo - PTI

Thiruvananthapuram : Congress president Sonia Gandhi receiving from Kerala Cultural Affairs Minister KC Joseph (left) the transcript of Mahatma Gandhi’s speech on 13th March 1925 at Sivagiri Mutt in Varkala regarding Vaikom Satyagraha, at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. Kerala CM Oommen Chandy is also seen.
Photo – PTI

Congress party president Sonia Gandhi launched a veiled attack on the ruling BJP while invoking the legacy of Kerala’s renowned social reformer Sree Narayan Guru. Speaking in Sivagiri mutt at Varkala on Wednesday, she alleged that attempts were being made to capture the social reformer’s legacy by “communal ideologies and individuals” for political gain.

“I believe that there can be no greater betrayal of Sree Narayana Guru than the attempts being made to capture his legacy by communal ideologies and individuals whose motive is political power by spreading prejudice, bigotry and dividing our diverse society,” Sonia Gandhi said.

The Congress chief was in mutt for the inauguration of its 83rd annual pilgrimage. The Sivagiri Mutt is a major spiritual-cum-pilgrim centre of the Ezhava community in Kerala.

Sonia Gandhi’s visit to the Sivagiri mutt has come close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the mutt on December 15 to pay homage to Sree Narayana Guru who gave the message of one caste, one religion and one god to mankind.

Stressing that attempts made to communalise the Guru’s teachings amounted to betraying him, the chief of the principal opposition party said that Guru believed in respect to all faiths and motivated his followers to respect all religions.

“In 1924, at a congregation in Aluva in Ernakulam Sree Narayan Guru had stressed the need to abstain from religious conflict and to promote universal peace, harmony and prosperity of all religions,” Ms Gandhi said further in her address.

“In fact I would say that they are (teachings) are more relevant today,” she added further.

FILE: FIle photo of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy.  Photo - PTI

FILE: FIle photo of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy.
Photo – PTI

Her address at the mutt assumes significance especially in the backdrop of BJP trying to enter into a tie-up with Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), a political party floated by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangam (SNDP) yogam – an organisation of the numerically strong backward Ezhava community — for the Assembly elections due next year.

Speaking further at the Sivagiri mutt, which is considered as a prime symbol of social reformation and social equality in the state, Ms Gandhi also stressed that it was sad that caste discrimination still existed in the country.

“Sadly caste discrimination still exists and we still have much work to do in the area. It is for all of us to work in fully eliminating discrimination in the country of any form. It is in our power to eliminate it”.

Without naming SNDP general secretary Vellapally Natesan, who has been warming up to BJP, she said, “It would be complete negation of Sree Narayana Guru’s teaching if it (SNDP) pursues political gains by a few of this noble organisation and stray from its principles and purposes (for which it had been established)”.

Earlier this month, an event to unveil the statue of late CM R Sankar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had turned controversial after the invite to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was withdrawn.

Kerala, considered a traditional Congress bastion, is going to polls by mid-next year and the BJP, which has yet to open its account in the state assembly and Parliament from the state, is making all attempts to bring the Ezhava community to its fold.

(With inputs from the PTI)