Doordarshan aired ‘The Kerala Story’, despite protest by CPI(M), Congress

Meanwhile, the DYFI, the youth wing of the CPI(M) screened a video, "The Kerala Story True or Fake?" by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee


Published Apr 06, 2024 | 11:55 AMUpdatedApr 06, 2024 | 11:55 AM

Doordarshan logo

Despite a strong protest raised by the ruling CPI(M) and Congress in Kerala, Doordarshan on Friday, 5 April, aired the controversial Bollywood movie The Kerala Story.

The movie was telecast by the autonomous public service broadcaster at 8 pm.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI(M) screened a video, “The Kerala Story True or Fake?” by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee, at various places across the state to debunk the movie.

The youth Congress expressed strong protest and staged a protest march to the Doordarshan office in Thiruvananthapuram at around 8.30 pm against the broadcast of the movie.

Also Read: Opposition leader Satheesan joins hands with CM Vijayan against ‘malicious Kerala Story’ telecast

Congress writes to ECI

Earlier in the day, the CPI(M) and the Congress in Kerala lodged separate complaints with the Election Commission of India against Doordarshan’s decision to air the controversial movie, alleging it could potentially polarise society along religious lines and urged the poll panel to intervene and stop its screening.

However, the BJP claimed that the theme of the movie was real and wondered why the Left and the Congress were opposing it.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, VD Satheesan, sent a letter to the Election Commission today, seeking to direct Doordarshan to withdraw from its decision to telecast “the extremely malicious ‘The Kerala Story’ movie”.

“As you are aware, ‘The Kerala Story’ is a propaganda film based on extremely false promises and attempts to paint a bleak picture of the people of the state. I believe this is part of Sangh Parivar’s poisonous agenda to divide the country along communal lines,” Satheesan said in his letter.

He said the decision by the Central government to telecast the movie through Doordarshan before the Lok Sabha election was a tacit effort to divide society on religious grounds to further the electoral prospects of the ruling BJP.

“The decision of Doordarshan is a direct insult to the people of Kerala. It is also in violation of the model code of conduct, which forbids any effort to divide society on religious lines,” the senior Congress leader said.

Controversial film with divisive plot

CPI(M) state secretary, MV Govindan said the timing of the proposed telecast, on the brink of elections, that too when the campaigning is gaining heightened momentum, gives rise to genuine doubts, as it has the propensity to garner/generate votes for candidates pursuing sectarian ideologies.

Telecasting such a controversial film with a divisive plot at this juncture will certainly create mutual hatred between different religious groups and cause tensions, Govindan said in his complaint letter sent to the ECI.

He said the widely advertised screening of such a film through the DD National Channel will aggravate the situation.

Govindan said the Doordarshan was subjected to deep and pervasive control of the union government, and the movie “with a divisive theme” will impair free and fair elections.

The senior CPI(M) leader said that in order to avoid creating communal hatred and not provide an opportunity to appeal for votes on religious grounds, necessary directions need to be issued to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Prasar Bharati Corporation and the Doordarshan not to telecast the film The Kerala Story through any of its channels.

Also Read: An arch becomes a symbol of India’s communal harmony

BJP targets CPI (M) and Congress

Meanwhile, BJP state chief K Surendran targeted the Left and the Congress and alleged that both parties were playing vote bank politics.

“ISIS recruitment is not a fake story. Hundreds of such recruitments took place in Kerala. There was a case in Kerala high court involving students and their parents where the DGP himself filed an affidavit.This is happening in Kerala, especially in Kannur, Kasaragod and Ernakulam.

Many young women converted to Islam, sent to Syria. This is a real story, not a fake Story. Why are they afraid of it? It’s only for vote banks. Once there was a drama called ‘Kakkukali’ which was against Christ. It was a big controversy in Kerala. What was the stance of Congress and CPM then?,” Surendran asked.

CM condemns DD

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Thursday condemned Doordarshan’s decision and asked the public broadcaster to withdraw from screening the controversial movie, saying it would only “exacerbate communal tensions” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Vijayan had asked the national broadcaster not to become a “propaganda machine” for the BJP and the RSS.

“The decision by @DDNational to broadcast the film ‘Kerala Story’, which incites polarisation, is highly condemnable. The national news broadcaster should not become a propaganda machine of the BJP-RSS combine and withdraw from screening a film that only seeks to exacerbate communal tensions ahead of the general elections.

Kerala will remain steadfast in opposing such malicious attempts to sow hatred,” Vijayan said in a post on ‘X’.

In a statement, the ruling CPI(M) asked the Doordarshan not to stand with the “BJP’s attempt to polarise” the secular Kerala society.

The Kerala Story

The Kerala High Court had last year refused to stay the release of the film, stating that the movie trailer does not contain anything offensive to any particular community as a whole.

The court had said that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has examined the movie and found that it is suitable for public exhibition. The movie’s trailer was severely criticised and challenged before the court for “falsely” claiming that 32,000 women from Kerala got converted and radicalised and were deployed in terror missions both in India and the world.

The BJP had alleged that there was an unofficial ban on the movie in the theatres of the state.

Strong protest was held by the CPI(M) and the Congress against the movie when it was released in 2023.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)