Since the BJP-led government seized power in the Center in 2014, party unity in Kerala has desperately tried to find its way into the state’s traditionally bipolar political regime. The BJP was able to slightly increase its share of the vote among the Nair and Ezhavas / Thiyyas of the Hindu community in subsequent polls of the local three-level body, the Assembly and Lok Sabha. But despite a high-tension campaign and even the establishment of the “Metroman” E. Sreedharan, the party failed to retain its only Nemom segment in the 2021 Assembly polls.
Now, after the Sabarimala issue, Sangh Parivar’s organizations are spearheading the halal controversy aimed at creating animosity towards Muslims among sections of Hindus and Christians in time for the 2024 elections in Lok. Sabha.
The halal issue must be read with the demographic evolution of Kerala, Muslims now constituting more than 26% of the population and appropriating the strong economic and political weight previously enjoyed by Christians.
Incidentally, the campaign is also focused on Muslim food rituals. This was after a video of a Muslim clergyman blowing air into the first plate of food to make it ‘holy’ before serving it to guests during Uroos at Tajul Ulama Dargah went viral on social media. .
Although halal signs do not appear as often in hotels in northern Kerala as the Sangh Parivar, Hindutva and radical Christian groups claim are tagging the names of Muslim-owned hotels across the state on networks. social. At the same time, Islamist groups are fighting back against the campaign, asking the Muslim community to avoid hotels owned by Hindus and Christians. As business began to decline, some hotel owners in Kozhikode filed a complaint with the police over the growing threat. Subsequently, the halal labels that appeared in the non-Muslim southern and central regions also began to disappear.
With the controversy in the air, SJR Kumar, National Vice President of Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam and former State President of Vishva Hindu Parishad, approached the High Court of Kerala to seek a directive to stop the distribution of prasadam made of what was claimed to be halal jaggery in Sabarimala.
By the way, if the Christian and Muslim communities jointly opposed the beef slaughter ban previously approved by BJP-led state governments, the current problem has seen Christian groups with tacit support from the BJP. bishops of the powerful Syro-Malabar Church openly speak out against the “domination” of the Muslim community.
Several factors such as the booming Gulf money that benefited the Muslim community, the agrarian crisis, and falling cash crop prices resulted in the state’s new social, political and economic environment.
Oppose the agenda
The ruling CPI (M), which previously held statewide beef parties, is trying to oppose attempts to communitize eating habits. Its youth wing organized a foodie street program with various types of food, including chicken, beef and pork. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the halal controversy was part of a program established by the Sangh Parivar to foment division in society.
As for Congress, it always plays hide and seek with the issue without taking a clear stand, especially when its leaders come under scrutiny from the public and social media.
The hate campaign in the name of halal does not bode well for the state; it will only further vitiate the religious divide on a new spectrum of Islamophobia.