Never said Lord Ganesha is a myth, says CPI(M) Kerala secretary; Sivagiri Mutt seeks Speaker’s apology

Shamseer allegedly accused the Centre of trying to teach children Hindu myths instead of accomplishments in science and technology.

ByPTI

Published Aug 05, 2023 | 11:54 AM Updated Aug 05, 2023 | 11:54 AM

Kerala Assembly Speaker AN Shamseer. (File photo/KB Jayachandran)

Stung by raging attacks and widespread criticism from various quarters against Kerala Assembly Speaker AN Shamseer’s recent remarks about Lord Ganesha, the ruling CPI(M) on Saturday, 5 August, clarified that he never said that the Hindu deity is a myth and that the party has always stood with the believers in society.

While the Marxist party leaders sought to play down the issue even as they continued to justify Shamseer, the opposition Congress reiterated its demand that the speaker retract his statement.

During an event organised at a school in Ernakulam district recently, Shamseer allegedly accused the Centre of trying to teach children Hindu myths instead of accomplishments in science and technology.

Sivagiri Mutt demands apology

Putting more pressure on the ruling party, the influential Sivagiri Mutt, a major spiritual centre of the state’s numerically strong Ezhava community, said that the speaker’s remarks on Lord Ganesha had hurt the sentiments of the faithful and urged him to tender an unqualified apology in this regard.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi, CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan said that neither he nor Shamseer ever said that Lord Ganesha is a myth, and alleged that a “false campaign” is being unleashed by political opponents and a section of the media on the issue.

Besides the speaker’s remarks, an explanation given by Govindan at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram two days ago to justify Shamseer’s words also didn’t go down well with his political opponents. The BJP-affiliated Sangh Parivar has already begun a campaign against Govindan as well.

The BJP and right-wing outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have already launched a campaign against Shamseer, saying they are aggrieved over the speaker’s comments regarding Lord Ganesha and the mythical pushpaka vimanam.

The ruling CPI(M) had on Saturday strongly condemned the campaign by the Sangh Parivar against Shamseer over his reported controversial remarks.

Misinterpreting myths and beliefs and portraying them as scientific thoughts would only lead to the backtracking of the progress of society and checking the development of science, the CPI(M) had earlier said in a statement.

Also read: Hindutva outfit gets temple to change colour to yellow from green

‘Ganesha and Allah part of respective faiths’

When journalists asked about some of his reported controversial statements, Govindan said both Lord Ganesha and Allah are part of the faith of their respective religious faithful, and there is no need for him to state that they are just myths.

“I have never said that… You please see the video of the press conference again. If you listen to the explanation (given for myths), you can understand it clearly,” said Govindan, who is also a politburo member of the CPI(M).

He also said he had explained in detail during the Wednesday, 2 August, news conference held in Thiruvananthapuram what a myth was by citing the story about Parasurama creating Kerala by hurling his axe into the sea.

His statement comes amid growing protests from Hindu organisations, including the influential Nair Service Society (NSS), over Shamseer’s alleged recent remarks about the Hindu deity during a speech in a school in Ernakulam district while criticising the education policy of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre.

Govindan said the CPI(M) has always stood with true believers, and that Kerala society—which has always upheld history and science together on its path to social development —is well aware of its stand.

Coming down heavily on the opposition parties’ allegations against the ruling CPI(M) and Shamseer over his remarks on the Hindu deity, the leader said the Marxist party is with the real believers in society and not with those who pretend to be believers and communalists who use faith as a tool for political purposes.

KK Shailaja stands with the speaker

Senior CPI(M) leader and former health minister KK Shailaja also came out to justify Shamseer.

She said the speaker did not mention anything about beliefs or believers, and cautioned that there are attempts being made to create divisions among people.

Without evidence or proof, one cannot say something is science, she added.

“What is the need to compel a person to believe things… We are not denying anything…some myths, some people are believing… What is the need for this kind of shouting,” she asked, speaking at a briefing in the national capital.

However, the opposition Congress reiterated its demand that Shamseer withdraw his statement.

Also read: Lord Ganesha made Kerala’s influential NSS put ‘faith above science’

LoP demands the speaker withdraw the statement

Refusing to buy CPI(M) state secretary’s explanation, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly VD Satheesan insisted that Govindan had indeed said in Thiruvananthapuram that Lord Ganesha is a myth and that he changed his stand when he reached New Delhi.

If the speaker also changes his stand in the same manner, the issue would be over, Satheesan said, indicating that Shamseer should withdraw his remarks.

Meanwhile, Sachchidananda Swamy, president of Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust, which manages the renowned Sivagiri Mutt, said the speaker should have handled the matter carefully.

Virtually extending support to the recent protest demonstrations organised by the Nair Service Society against Shamseer, he said no one can blame them as the remarks might have hurt their sentiments.

Addressing a news conference in Sivagiri, Swamy said the speaker might not have made the controversial remarks deliberately, but “if it has hurt the faithful community, Shamseer should tender an unqualified apology. It is part of our social life.”

(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.)