Outrage over superstar Mammootty’s alleged Jihadi ties

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Outrage over superstar Mammootty’s alleged Jihadi ties

Tuesday, 21 May 2024 | Kumar Chellappan

The controversy has ignited a fierce political debate and exposed deep-seated tensions within Kerala’s political landscape

The disclosure by Mohammed Sharshad, a Chennai-based businessman, who is also a CPI(M) activist, that Malayalam cinema’s “super mega star” Mammootty has shocked the secular, liberal and democratic political leaders of Kerala. The CPI(M), CPI and Congress leaders have come out openly against the Sangh Parivar for portraying Mammootty as a Jihadi. The disclosure about Mammootty’s links with Jihadi organisations was made by a Muslim youth, a local leader of the CPI(M).

The first person to attack Sangh Parivar about the report about Mammootty’s Jihadi links was K T Jaleel MLA, a former CPI(M) minister and former president of the banned SIMI. Jaleel is famous for his speeches and writings that India could be liberated only through Islam. Then other ministers took up the issue and it has caused ripples in Kerala.

Mammootty, who was a below-average student during his college days is an Arabic graduate from Maharaja’s College Ernakulam. While he was a student, Prof Ummer was the head of the Arabic Department and it was the latter who set the question papers and valued the answer sheets. No Arabic student has failed in BA Arabic examination in Maharajas College those days. The title super mega star reminds one of the age-old adage in the land of the blind, the one-eyed is the King. Mammootty is no match for his counterparts in Hindi movies or Hollywood.

Being a Jihadi or communalist is not a crime. The issue here is that one who questions the organized bargaining capacity of the Muslim community becomes persona non grata in Kerala. Leaders who were bold enough to point out the hidden agenda of the Muslim political and spiritual leaders ended up in dustbins.

EMS Namboodirippadu tops the list of such persons who were decimated by the Islamist leaders. Before the 1991 assembly elections, there was a suggestion from certain CPI(M) leaders like E K Nayanar and M V Raghavan (both left to meet Marx, Lenin and Stalin) that the party should ally with the Muslim League. But Namboodirippadu was quick to retort that the Muslim League should get rid of its name and flag (that resembled the Pakistani national flag) to be considered an ally. Leaders of the Muslim League became furious and they saw to it that Namboodirippadu was cut to size and the CPI(M) removed him from the coveted position of general secretary in 1992.

The next to earn the wrath of leaders of the Muslim community was A K Antony who was the chief minister during the period 2001 to 2004. The 2003 Marad beach massacre that saw the slaughtering of eight Hindu fishermen by Islamic radicals happened during Antony’s tenure. Antony was for an investigation by the CBI but made a hasty retreat as Muslim League leaders throttled the move. But he warned the League leaders openly that the organized bargaining power of communal outfits would not be entertained by his Government. This hurt the Muslim League leadership who asked the Congress High Command to remove Antony from the chief minister’s post at the earliest. That’s how Antony tendered his resignation post-2004 Lok Sabha polls and moved over to New Delhi.

V S Achuthanandan, a widely respected leader of the CPI(M) was sworn in as chief minister in 2006 after the assembly election. Achuthanandan was always against any kind of communalism and fanaticism. During a press meeting in the national capital in 2010, Achuthanandan said that Love Jihad was a reality. “The Muslim fundamentalists have an agenda to convert Kerala into a Muslim majority State within the next two decades,” he had said.

Though the CPI(M) lost the 2011 elections by a whisker, the party returned to power in 2016 making use of the goodwill enjoyed by Achuthanandan all over Kerala. The highway from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram was dotted with larger-than-life-size posters of Achuthanandan giving an impression that he would be the automatic choice of the CPI(M) as chief minister after the election. But Pinarayi Vijayan, whose pictures or posters were conspicuously absent, was nominated as chief minister by the party’s leadership and since then the former has become the uncrowned king of Kerala. Achuthanandan was sidelined not because of the influence wielded by the Muslim community in the CPI(M). .

The ire of the Muslim League and community leaders also claimed the political career of G Sudhakaran, a CPI(M) minister who was disliked by the district-level leaders of Alappuzha (all belonging to the Muslim community) from where he hails. PC George, the seven-time legislator who had defeated both the LDF and the UDF in assembly elections was made to bite the dust in his home turf of Poonjar for lambasting Love Jihad and the role of various Islamist outfits in this operation. For more than four decades, George was a secular leader acceptable to the Muslim community. But when he pointed out the plight of the victims of Love Jihad, George became an enemy of humanity and the entire Muslim community voted against him in the 2021 assembly election. This is Kerala’s brand of secularism. Caveat Emptor would be the ideal word of caution for those daring to question the Islamic outfits.

(The writer is a special correspondent with the Pioneer, views are personal)

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