The marriage of convenience which the CPM entered into, with the 46 per cent Christian, Muslim population to win the polls to the legislative assembly is slowly collapsing, with each passing day and it may be a matter of time before the final divorce takes place.
Education is a major area where the church and Christianity have huge stakes and any effort to meddle or tinker with it, will produce violent reactions from the Bishops and Arch Bishops. Joseph Mundassery, the Education Minister in the 1st elected Communist Government in the world of Comrade E.M. Sankaran Nampoodiripad who tried to bring reforms in the educational institutions controlled by the church, had to receive strong opposition. This gradually grew into the ?Liberation Struggle? of 1959, in which the entire church hierarchy right from Metropolitans, to Archbishops to local level church functionaries like sextons participated. V3iolence, lathi-charges, police firings become an everyday affair and on July 31, 1959, Article 356 of the Constitution was first used by the Nehru Cabinet to dismiss EMS Ministry and imposed President'sRule. Now, also a Christian, M.A. Baby, Education Minister is trying to teach the church a lesson. But will he be Joseph Mundassery-II, which will prompt the church for another liberation struggle.
M.A. Baby who owes his personal victory at Kundara Constituency in Kollam district due to massive support from the church, started off very well. He made the Minorities Commission, through its Christian member, Valson Thampu accord minority status to six institutions run by the church which includes two controversial Medical Colleges. But after the sugar coating came the bitter bill, the ?self-financing Professional Colleges Regulation Act?. The CPM and its monkey brigade SFI had always publically protested against self-financing institutions. First was the opposition to self-financing +2 schools. But during the Nayanar Ministry of 1996-2001, lakhs of rupees were collected as funds to party newspaper ?Deshabhimani? and party channel ?Kairali? and hundreds of schools allotted. Similarly, when permission for self-financing Engineering, Medical, Nursing colleges were given by A.K. Antony/ Oommen Chandy led UDF governments, the CPM gave silent support despite SFI protesting tokenly. 75 to 85 per cent of these +2 schools and professional institutions are being run by church/Muslims.
As per the UDF governments decision and as recommend actions of a Judicial Commission of Justice K.T. Thomas, the accepted norms was 50:50 (50 per cent merit and 50 per cent management seats). The merits seats will have a lesser fee and management seats a whooping fee. Kerala has a high NRI population and during admission time, parents run with money in sacks (the going rate is upto Rs.50 lakhs for a management quota seat for medicine) to admit their children to Medicine or Engineering. President APJ Abdul Kalam once jocularly remarked that every student in Kerala wants to become a doctor or engineer, nothing else.
M.A. Baby piloted and obtained House and Governors sanction for an act known as Self Financing Act (SFA). This act aims at curtailing money power during admission and to include another 20 per cent for economically and financially weaker sections in the merit quota. The net effect is that 50:50 will become 70:30, where the managements leverage for pumping in moneyed class will come down by 20 per cent.
Violent protests emulated from the Christian community. Pastoral letters were read at all churches in Kerala against the SFA. In a rare unity reminiscent of the ?Liberation Struggle? days of 1959, malankara Orthodox Church, Malankara Jacobite Church, Malankara Catholic church, Syro Malabar, Mar Thoma, Syrian Christian church, Varapuzha Archdiocese, Latin Catholic, CSI and Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) joined together. Arch Bishops Cyril Mar Baselios and Archbishop Joseph Powathil thundered that CPM is out to change the minority status accorded to Christians in Kerala and the SFA is a challenge to minority rights guaranteed under the Constitution. They said that Baby'sulterior motive is to being Christian educational institutions under its control which will lead to communal tension.
Other constituents of the LDF like CPI, RSP, NCP etc have criticised the CPM for not discussing the issue in the LDF and have accused the CPM of taking unilateral decisions, ignoring coalition dharma. The Chief Minister V.S. who cannot see eye to eye with M.A. Baby has added confusion to the scenario by saying Government is willing for changes in the law and for talks with Muslim leaders. This has led to severe criticism from the Pinarayi dominate State Committee who are backing Baby. The Kerala High Court Single Bench and Division Bench have stayed the implementation of the Act and the states appeal will come up in Supreme Court in August 2nd week.
To add to the confusion Justice K.T. Thomas has in an interview told that ?Those who take bribes at institutions running in the name of Christ are betraying him like Judas did.? He continued that Bishops are behaving like man-eaters of Kumaon and are like under-world gangs who sell tickets in black market. He said that the church and institutions run by it are not accountable for the crores they collect.
The CPM date with Muslims is also shattering. Clashes have erupted in Nadapuram, near Kozhikode, between Hindu dominated CPM, SFI cadres and student wing of the NDF. The Muslim League is also adding fuel to fire by igniting passions. Nadapuram had in the past witnessed violent clashes between CPM and IUML, NDF etc. and there was a CPM blockade of Muslims in a Hindu dominated area.
The underlying fact of all these is that the CPM in Kerala is basically a Hindu force, whether they acknowledge it or not and any marriage of convenience will eventually bomb, with true colours revealed.