It was supposed to be a discussion on the State Budget 2019-20 in the Assembly on Tuesday but it turned out to be an occasion to refresh the post-Independence history of the country.
It was CPI leader Mullakkara Ratnakaran who sought to give the Congress some lessons in history. “It is high time you realised the need to separate faith and politics,” he told the opposition members. He said he was surprised to hear the Congress claim that they were with the faithful. “Just think of what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru would have said. Would he have said that he was with the faithful. Never. He was with the faithful, the atheists and the agnostics. He was with India,” Mullakkara said. “Like Nehru, Congress too should not have been with the faithful but with Kerala when the Sabarimala agitation broke out,” he added.
Mullakkara said that Gandhi was a believer. Then, in an indirect but a profound disapproval of Rahul Gandhi's neo-secularism, Mullakkara said that Gandhi was not the kind of believer who visited temples. “Though he was a believer, it was in Nehru, the non-believer, that Gandhi trusted more than the believer Vallabhai Patel,” he said. This was a veiled reference to Patel's alleged right-of-centre leanings.
Mullakkara then moved on to the appropriation of Patel by the BJP. “When the BJP says that Patel is the tallest leader in the Congress, you should realise the danger,” he told the opposition. Prime minister Narendra Modi had recently unveiled the statue of Vallabhai Patel in Gujarat, in Gandhi's own homeland. “Patel was only as tall as himself. Nehru was taller than Patel. But Gandhi was three times taller than Nehru,” Mullakkara said, as if trying to impress upon the Congressmen their secular lineage.
He said this also reflected a certain brashness that had come to define the right-wing forces now. “If earlier they were hesitant to take on Gandhi, now they have been emboldened. That is why they so callously shoot a cut out of Gandhi and call for the resurrection of Godse. Then they post this murder on social media,” Mullakkara said. “This is tragedy,” he added.
Mullakkara used a Vivekananda story to convey that the Congress stand during the Sabarimala controversy was a return to darkness. “One night, a thief, a lover, and a child comes across a tree stump. The thief thinks it is the police, the lover thinks it is his beloved, and the child thinks it is a ghost. What misled the three was nothing but the absence of light,” he said.
Mullakkara had his own take for the namajapa protests. He said the namajapa chants were not prayers. “It was nothing but a slogan-shouting. A slogan is the demonstration of one's might but a prayer is the throbbing of one's heart,” he said.
The communist leader also said that had Gandhi and Karl Marx met today they would have shook hands as comrades. “They are closer than you think,” Mullakkara told the house.