The Communist Party of India-Marxist, which has turned into a minuscule political force in Tamil Nadu, has decided to rework its public strategy, and in its recently-concluded state conference held from March 30 to April 1, decided that the party cadres would henceforth participate in temple programmes.
In the old days, the CPI-M was at the forefront of hefty campaigns against religious beliefs, especially against temples and their rituals, but as times change, its Tamil Nadu unit has decided to actively take part in temple festivals, amid fears of RSS and BJP stamping their presence.
Talking to IANS, CPI-M state Secretary, K. Balakrishnan, said: “The party is involving itseld in the cultural activities attached with the temple festivals and these are events where people attend in large numbers.”
The CPI-M feels that it has to be proactive in religious programmes or will be left out of mainstream society.
Senior CPI-M leaders of Tamil Nadu are, however, downplaying the decision of the party’s state conference and a member of the Tamil Nadu Secretariat told IANS that the party has nothing to lose in embracing religion.
“Party has always been trying to reach out to the masses and there is no point in shying away from religious affairs as the people are actively involved in these programmes. Party state committee has already clarified that we will be participating in cultural programmes,” the leader said.
The CPI-M has seen the growth of BJP in southern Tamil Nadu and the saffron party has always been promoting Hindutva politics and has struck a chord in the area, especially Kanniyakumari district.
“There is no ideological shift and the final decision will the be taken at the Party Congress to be held from April 6 to 10 at Kerala’s Kannur. You can see party comrades in temple administrations in Kerala and comrades actively participating in Durga Pooja celebrations in West Bengal… there need not be much discussion on the party participating in temple programmes in Tamil Nadu,” party leader and Secretariat member, P. Shanmugham told IANS.
He said that 95 per cent of the people of Tamil Nadu are believers but not communal and the party has decided to counter certain forces who are trying to hijack the religious people and convert them into communalists.
The ruling DMK has also climbed down from its earlier stand of verbal attacks against temple-goers and present Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin has already announced a budgetary allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the renovation of temples.