The CPI (M)-led Kerala government on Friday stirred a hornet’s nest by putting an image depicting Mahathma Gandhi’s assassination on the cover of the 2020-21 state budget document presented in the assembly by finance minister Thomas Issac and insisting that it was meant to send a political message.
Opposition Congress and BJP decried the move and said it was avoidable. After a row erupted, Issac defended the picture by saying the country won’t forget Bapu’s killers. Issac said it “This is important at the time when history is being re-written. There is a concerted attempt to erase popular memories and use the National Register of Citizens to divide the country on communal lines. Kerala will stand united,” he said.
Kerala was the first state to pass a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and move the Supreme Court against the Central law that triggered widespread protests around the country.
State opposition leader, Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala said it was wrong to drag the father of the nation in a budget speech. “We have been fighting communal forces for long. But I don’t think it was an appropriate gesture,” he said. BJP spokesman J R Padmakumar said it showed the bankruptcy of the left front government. “Sad, they don’t have anything else to say or show,” he said. Muslim League leader K M Muneer also slammed the decision.
In West Bengal, Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy were detained by the Kolkata Police, along with other leaders of the party, for leading a rally in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in south Kolkata on Friday afternoon.
“We don’t expect such behavior from the police. The way we were stopped and arrested is authoritarianism and unconstitutional. We were supporting the CAA in a democratic manner. The entire country is supporting it. We condemn the way the government is trying to stop us,” Vijayvargiya told reporters before boarding a police van.
Police, however, said that the BJP leaders were not arrested. They were just detained.
The BJP rally was to start from Tollygunge Phari around 1 pm and was scheduled to reach Hazra about two km away. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence is near Hazra. Police however put up several barricades to stop the rally since 11:30 am. Minor clashes broke out between the BJP supporters and the police. However, there was no official information whether police had given permission for organising the rally or not.