Kerala Adani Port Protests: CPM Hopes Wind Will Change After Violence, Priest Remarks | News Bharat

The attack on a police station last week by fishermen protesting against construction of Vizhinjam port in Kerala and comments made against a Muslim priest by a Catholic priest at the forefront of the agitation provided the ruling CPI(M) with an opportunity to spin a communal angle to the protests.

Fishermen in the region have been protesting the Adani Group’s port project for the past four months, claiming its construction is causing massive sea erosion and could take away their livelihood. After requiring an impact study, among others, the project was stalled for more than three months. A Kerala High Court order resumed construction last week, sparking the unrest that led to the violence at the police station. Police arrested 3,000 people in connection with the attack.

On Monday, Fisheries Minister V. Abdurahiman called the protests “treasonous”. In a speech, responding to the remark, Father Theodasius D’Cruz, convenor of the anti-seaport project committee of the Latin Catholic Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, said there was a “terrorist in the name of the minister”. While D’Cruz apologized for the comments later, calling them a “slur”, Abdurahiman rejected the apology, saying “society as a whole will not accept such a comment”.

The ruling CPI(M) hopes that the violence, coupled with the priest’s controversial remark, will erode public support for the fishermen’s cause. The party has ensured that both issues remain alive ever since.

CPI(M) state secretary and Politburo member MV Govindan accused D’Cruz of having a “perverted mindset of communalism”. “If the priest finds a terrorist in the name of a priest because of his Muslim name, he (the priest) has an extremely public mind. What happened in Vizhinjam on Sunday was a riot,” he said.

Minister PA Muhammad Riyas said, “The cleric is trying to create an ideological environment to promote the interests of the Sangh Parivar.”

Other ministers MB Rajesh and V Sivankutty also attacked D’Cruz.

While the BJP is trying to woo the Christian vote in Kerala, largely amid their fears about Muslim fundamentalism, on the seaport project both the BJP and the CPI(M) are on the same page. Leaders from both parties recently shared a floor demanding the completion of the project.

Therefore, the weakening of the protest suits both sides.

Meanwhile, Congress is trying to defend the seaport project while supporting the fishermen’s demand that they be rehabilitated.

Balancing, however, proves to be a difficult task. After state Congress president K Sudhakaran dismissed attempts to portray the fishermen as extremists, Govindan said the party appeared to be siding with communal elements as it did not condemn the priest’s remarks.

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