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Purveyor of polarisation – The Hindu- Mrit News

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With his hate speech, P.C. George is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons

With his hate speech, P.C. George is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons

After a humiliating defeat last May in his home turf, the Poonjar Assembly segment, from where he had won seven times before, Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) leader P.C. George had been out of political action for some time. Now he is back in the political limelight, but for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, he was remanded to judicial custody after a first-class magistrate’s court in Thiruvananthapuram cancelled his bail in a case related to a communally charged hate speech he delivered at the Hindu Maha Sammelan on April 30 this year. Previously, the court had granted him bail on the same day he was arrested from his residence at Erattupetta on May 1. Bail was granted on the condition that he would not make such communally-loaded comments in public. But 10 days after he was out on bail, Mr. George repeated the unsavoury remarks he had made against the Muslim community, particularly on “love jihad” and “population excess”, at a temple function at Vennala in Kochi.

Nonetheless, after spending a day at the Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram, Mr. George was granted bail by the Kerala High Court considering his health condition and status as a former MLA. While the CPI (M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF condemned the statements of Mr. George, the Kerala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has backed him to the hilt. It was also significant that the outburst by Mr. George happened when the electioneering for the Thrikkakara Assembly bypoll was nearing its peak.

Significantly, the powerful Syro-Malabar Church was silent on his statements. Given the shadow of distrust that is sought to be sowed between the Christian and Muslim communities in Kerala by some outfits, this was widely interpreted as the Church’s subtle support for Mr. George.

However, the Metropolitan of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Yuhanon Mar Meletius of the Thrissur Diocese, lashed out at Mr. George saying that none had appointed him to represent the Christian community and that he was toeing the BJP line because he had no option as both the Congress and CPI(M) had rejected him. But the Orthodox Syrian Church later distanced itself from the Metropolitan’s statement stating that it was his personal view.

As of now, Mr. George’s party is keen to join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. But he is known for his unpredictability; swapping political parties and coalitions at will during his long innings. On several occasions, he had backed the Social Democratic Party of India, the political avatar of the Popular Front of India (PFI), an outfit known for its fundamentalism, and had, in turn, received its support when he contested as an independent candidate during the 2016 assembly polls.

Now it remains to be seen how an ideologically malleable Mr. George works in tandem with an ideologically rigid but faction-riven BJP which is struggling to get a foothold in Kerala’s polity. The BJP’s link with Mr. George has to be read with the party’s long-standing efforts to tap into the Christian community in the State.

The statements of the BJP leaders indicate that the party may use Mr. George for temporary political gains as they know he has only minimal influence among the Christain community. For the time being, it has secured a Christian leader to drive a wedge between the minority communities in a State.

If the party is encouraging Mr. George to say what its leaders could not say, or would not dare to say, just so that they can use his hate speeches to create religious polarisation for political gain, ultimately, Mr. George risks becoming a liability for the BJP.

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