How indecisiveness on ‘support’ by SDPI put Congress in a spot in Kerala

The offer of support by the SDPI stirred controversy, with both the BJP and the LDF alleging that the Congress was taking support from extremist groups.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Apr 05, 2024 | 7:00 AMUpdatedApr 05, 2024 | 7:00 AM

VD Satheesan (Screengrab)

For days Congress in Kerala had been indecisive on SDPI, affiliated to now-banned PFI, extended its support to the party. By the time the grand old party decided to reject the support, it was too little, too late.

In a significant political move, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), after careful deliberation spanning four days, decided to reject the support offered by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

SDPI, the political arm of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI), had announced its support to the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Monday, 1 April.

The party’s endorsement has sparked intense discussions within Congress and the UDF and has also stirred a hornet’s nest as the BJP as well as the LDF alleged that Congress is taking support from the extremist groups.

Also Read: Union Minister Smriti Irani accuses Cong of contesting LS polls with ‘support of terrorists’

‘We oppose communalism’

Talking to the media, Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leaders VD Satheesan said that Congress and the UDF oppose communalism and that it doesn’t matter whether it is by majority or minority communities.

“The Congress and the UDF stand united against any form of communalism, whether propagated by majority or minority communities. Our alliance is rooted in the principles of secularism and inclusive politics. We don’t want the support of such organizations. This is our view on the support extended by the SDPI also,” said Satheesan.

The party took four days to clear its stance on the support offered by SDPI, which had snowballed into a political controversy by then. 

When asked about the delay, MM Hassan, acting KPCC president said: “It was on Monday, 1 April that SDPI extended their support. Then I told the media that the UDF would deliberate on it and would make an announcement. It was only on 3 April that the UDF leaders were able to sit together and discuss it.”

According to Hassan, the discussion took place at Kalpetta in Wayanad, where it was unanimously decided not to accept the support.

The acting president also added that it’s an internal matter to be discussed within the UDF and neither Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan nor CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan could persuade Congress or UDF to take a decision.

Also read : SDPI comes out in support of jailed PFI workers

Political allegations 

Earlier, the chief minister had alleged that there was a “clear deal” between the Congress and SDPI, citing confusion within the Congress.

Govindan alleged that a new version of the Co-Le-B (Congress-League-BJP) alliance could be witnessed in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He said, “This time it will be C0-Le-B plus SDPI.”

The BJP has set out with guns blazing, both at state and national levels, against the Congress.

According to BJP state president K Surendran, who is also contesting against Rahul Gandhi at Wayanad, the UDF is taking the support of religious extremists in Kerala, including Wayanad.

Union Minister Smriti Irani attacked the Congress and quoted Kerala BJP leaders to allege that the Opposition party has stooped so low that it was seeking help from “terrorist organisations” to win elections.

Irani also hit out at Rahul Gandhi over his remark made at a rally in Delhi recently that if the BJP wins the election through “match-fixing” and changes the Constitution, then the country would be on “fire” and would not survive.

The BJP’s Kerala unit on Tuesday, 2 April, urged Gandhi to explain his stand over the support offered to the UDF by the SDPI.

Home Minister Amit Shah also hit out at the Congress, saying how can people be safe under the Congress if it has taken the support of the SDPI.

Meanwhile, SDPI is of the stance that there is a strong political sentiment against the BJP at the national level and that the Congress is spearheading the anti-BJP INDIA bloc. Therefore, it has decided to lend its support to the Congress in the upcoming elections.

The PFI was banned under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) by the union government in September 2022 over its alleged links with terror activities.

Formed in 2006 in Kerala, the organisation was headquartered in Delhi.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)