Key Congress ally in Kerala, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Sunday rejected the ruling CPI(M)'s overtures to take part in its seminars on the hotly debated Uniform Civil Code (UCC), claiming that the Left party was trying to create "conflict" and "division" by not inviting the grand old party.
The IUML said it was implied from the CPI(M)'s invite that it had "no good intentions" and there was no need for a seminar which divides people -- a response that comes as a blow to the Left party which was optimistic of seeing the League take part in its first seminar to be held on July 15 in Kozhikode district of the state.
Throwing its weight behind the Congress, the League said without the grand old party's leadership and support, it would not be possible for anyone to fight against the UCC at the national level as it was an issue concerning everyone in India and not just the Muslims.
The IUML announced its decision after a meeting of the party leadership at Panakkad here following the proposal by CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan that had upset the Congress and led it to accuse the Left party of turning the UCC into a Hindu versus Muslim issue for gaining political mileage.
After the meeting, the IUML's state chief Sayyid Sadik Ali Shihab Thangal told reporters that every party has the freedom to hold seminars or programmes on the issue and every party or religious organisation has the freedom to attend it or not.
"We are a key ally of the UDF and since no one UDF member has been invited to its seminar by the CPI(M), we cannot participate in it. The Indian National Congress (INC) is the sole party which can strengthen the opposition to the UCC at the national level.
"Therefore, no one can move forward against the UCC by sidelining the Congress. Moreover, taking part in a seminar without them (Congress) would also adversely affect the political future of Kerala," he said.
Speaking along similar lines, IUML national general secretary P K Kunhalikutty said seminars should not be held to divide the people.
He said the UCC Bill cannot be defeated in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha without the support and leadership of the Congress.
Echoing a similar view, IUML MP E T Mohammed Basheer said inviting the League without the Congress was "not right" and alleged that it was "an attempt to create conflict and divisions".
"It is obvious. Calling the IUML without the Congress is a divisive tactic. They (CPIM) did not do so with good intentions. We do not need a seminar which creates divisions. We need to bring in a national dimension for which the Congress has to be included," he said.
Basheer also categorically rejected the CPI(M)'s claims that the Congress did not have a clear stand on the UCC, saying "we do not find that".
"The Congress leadership has been vocally against the UCC right from the start. They have strongly opposed it. It is wrong to say that there are differences of opinion within that party on the issue," he added.
While the Congress welcomed the IUML announcement saying it never doubted its ally, the CPI(M) felt the League was not taking part in the seminar out of political obligation.
While senior Congress leader M M Hassan said the UCC cannot be countered nationally without the grand old party, MP K Muraleedharan said all those taking part in CPI(M)'s seminar should remember what happened to those who joined the Left party against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). "They are facing criminal cases still," he said.
Govindan and senior CPI(M) leader A K Balan termed the IUML decision as political.
The CPI(M) state secretary also claimed it was not a blow to the Left party if one of its several invitees decided not to join the seminar, especially one taken for political reasons.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said it was difficult to say who was being more opportunistic between the Congress and the CPI(M) on the UCC issue.
Earlier in the day, prior to the IUML meeting, CPI(M)'s Govindan said it was going to hold several seminars in the state to create awareness on the issue and everyone's complete support was required.
He said that everyone, including the League, were free to take part in the seminars, but Congress was not welcome as it did not have a clear stand on the issue. "Its stand is different in each state," Govindan had alleged.
In response to a reporter's query on whether the Left party will take part in the seminars that will be held by the IUML, he said the CPI(M) will support all efforts aimed at opposing UCC and the Hindutva agenda.
General Education Minister V Sivankutty too was of the view that the Congress does not have a clear and strong stand on the UCC and had a "soft approach" on similar issues.
Sivankutty was also optimistic that the IUML would take part in the CPI(M)'s efforts to counter the UCC.
While the IUML declined the Left party's invite, the Samastha Kerala Jam'iyyathul Ulama -- an influential religious organisation of Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics -- on Saturday had said it will cooperate with the CPI(M) and take part in its seminar to be held next week on the UCC.
A strong political debate has been kicked off in the state over the UCC after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, last week, made a strong push for implementing the UCC by asking how the country can function with dual laws that govern personal matters.
He had advocated for the UCC while addressing BJP workers in Bhopal in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)