Row erupts in Kerala over Assembly Speaker’s remarks on Lord Ganesha

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

Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress and BJP in Kerala on Wednesday rallied behind an influential Nair community organisation in its protest against Assembly Speaker A N Shamseer over his remarks about Lord Ganesha while the ruling CPI(M) stood solidly behind the party leader.

Standing his ground, Shamseer said that while he did not intend to hurt the feelings of anybody, he saw no reason to tender any apology for the remarks.

The Nair Service Society (NSS), a prominent organisation of the Nair community, alleged Shamseer’s controversial remarks that Lord Ganesha was a myth and that the belief had no scientific basis had hurt the sentiments of the Hindus.

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“There will be no apology or correction. There is no need for it. What Shamseer said is entirely correct,” CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan said a press conference here, throwing his weight behind Shamseer, who is a state committee member of the Left party.

Under attack from various quarters over his remarks, including the NSS, Shamseer sought to cool down the temper of the protesting outfits by making it clear that he never intended to hurt the sentiments of anyone believing in any religion and that the ongoing controversy over his recent remarks on Lord Ganesha was “very unfortunate”.

However, emboldened by the support of the CPI(M), the Speaker refused to tender an apology and justified his remarks, saying that the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, and, at the same time, it also promotes scientific temper.

“As a person upholding a constitutional post, when you say that scientific temper should be promoted, how can it be hurting religious faith?” Shamseer sought to know.

He also voiced his concerns against attempts to mix science with faith.

Shamseer and the CPI(M) made their stand clear on the matter amid rising protests from Hindu outfits including the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and opposition political parties like the Congress and the BJP.

Earlier in the day, a large number of Hindu devotees and members of the NSS offered prayers at Lord Ganesha temples across Kerala as a mark of protest against Shamseer’s remarks about the Hindu deity.

The special prayers and ‘namajapa’ (chanting of mantras) processions were held in various districts as the NSS urged the community members to observe ‘Save the Faith Day’ today against the Speaker’s remarks.

Thousands of devotees participated in the namajapa processions organised by the NSS in Thiruvananthapuram and other parts of the state on Wednesday evening.

As part of the protest, NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair offered prayers at a temple in Changanassery in Kottayam district earlier in the day and said the organisation was viewing Shamseer’s statement against Lord Ganesha as “anti-Hindu”. Nair also said Shamseer had no right to continue in the position of Assembly Speaker.

“It has hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community, and we cannot compromise on the issue,” he said.

Expressing solidarity with the NSS on the matter, Thushar Vellappally, a leader of the SNDP Yogam, the organisation of the numerically-strong Hindu Ezhava community, visited Sukumaran Nair at NSS headquarters in Changanassery.

Meanwhile, at the press conference, CPI(M) state secretary Govindan criticised the Congress stand on the matter, saying it was against the teachings of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who promoted scientific temper in society.

He also claimed that earlier Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor had also shared the same view as Shamseer.

“So, let’s see what V D Satheesan (Congress leader) has to say now,” Govindan said.

Satheesan, who is the Leader of Opposition in the assembly, earlier in the day, said the Speaker’s statement was a weapon for communal forces and it would be better to correct it.

He said the Speaker did not exercise the caution and vigilance that a person in a constitutional position ought to have exercised.

The Congress leader alleged that while the BJP and the Sangh Parivar tried to take political advantage of Shamseer’s remarks, the CPI(M) too tried to fan the flames of the issue in the same manner as the communal forces.

KPCC president K Sudhakaran alleged that the CPI(M) was trying to attack the NSS, which upholds high secular values.

Recalling the “laudable stand” taken by the NSS on the issue of entry of women in all age groups in Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple, Sudhakaran said the CPI(M)’s bid to target the NSS, which has always taken a secular stand, will not be allowed.

He said the Congress-led UDF had supported the NSS in its protest against the Supreme Court permitting entry of women in all age groups in Sabarimala a few years ago, and even today it supports the organisation.

BJP leader and Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar urged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to intervene in the matter.

“When Hindu faith is brazenly insulted in Kerala, theres no bus burning, no one is killed, no violence. But that shd not be taken as a freepass by @pinarayivijayan’s cronies to insult our faith or test Hindu resolve – that wud be a dangerous miscalculation abt Hindus. Pinarayi must cause Speaker Shamsheer to apologize to all Hindus for insulting our God Ganapathi (sic),” he tweeted.

The Sangh Parivar outfits have already launched a campaign against Shamseer, saying they are aggrieved over the Speaker’s remarks 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.

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