Making a strong political statement on federalism at a seminar organized by the CPI(M) as part of its 23rd Party Congress in Kannur, the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala jointly demanded a better relationship between the Center and State. The seminar also saw former Union Minister and senior Congress official KV Thomas attend the session defying the diktat of the party leadership.
Inaugurating the seminar, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that plural cultures existing in harmony are the essence of Indian democracy. Any attempt to paint everything in one shade must be opposed to all layers, he said.
“It is the agenda of the Sangh Parivar not to accept federal structures. They want to turn India into a monolithic culture,” he said. Criticizing Home Minister Amit Shah’s comments on Hindi as an alternative to English, Vijayan said attempts to impose Hindi would be rebuffed. “Our students learn Hindi in schools out of respect for the language. But if someone tries to impose it, we will oppose it,” he said.
Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin in his speech, which expressed his admiration for his Kerala counterpart, said that he decided to attend the seminar despite the ongoing Assembly session in TN, because the invitation came from the Kerala CM whom he considers a role model. “Besides, my name is Stalin. Nothing more is needed to prove my relationship with the CPI(M). I am not only here as TN CM but as one of you,” Stalin said. “The relationship between Tamil Nadu and Kerala dates back to the Sangham period,” he added.
Accusing the Union government of meddling with federalism, Stalin said the BJP did not believe in federalism. “They are inflicting greater wounds on the Indian ethos than even the British government had dared,” he said. States must unite to oppose any dictatorial agenda of the BJP government in the Centre,” he said.
KV Thoams, whose rebellion had drawn much media attention to the seminar, also criticized the BJP government for its “anti-federalism” manoeuvres. “The current government does not give CMs confidence when making important decisions such as demonetization. It’s a bad precedent,” he said.
Lashing out at his Congress party colleagues who criticized him for his attendance at the CPI(M) seminar, Thomas said they must stand with the government on issues related to the development of the state . “If you accept Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, then you should also participate in such kind of steps which are against BJP,” he said. “I hope my colleagues in Congress will realize that my participation in this esteemed conclave is also a matter of pride for the Congress party,” he added.
Thomas also extended his support for the K-Rail project which the Congress party had regularly opposed.
“We must support all development initiatives that are good for the state. K-Rail is one and I will support it. All MPs across party lines must stand together for the interest of Kerala. Just because K-Rail is being implemented by Pinarayi Vijayan, some Congress leaders think they should oppose it,” he alleged.
The CPI(M) Party Congress will end on Sunday.