R Balakrishna Pillai, leader of Kerala Congress (B), an ally of the ruling CPM-led LDF, faces arrest over hate speech against Muslims and Christians
T Satisan, Kochi
Former UDF Minister and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai was the only prominent ‘Hindu’ leader of the Christian-dominated Kerala Congress, a splinter group formed in 1964 after leaving Congress. The party underwent several splits and mergers for petty personal reasons. Pillai took maximum benefits of it and enjoyed the alliance of both Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF and did his level best against Hindu causes. When Hindus and Church were at loggerheads as the latter tried to grab the Nilakkal land belonging to Sabarimala Temple in early 1980s, Pillai supported the Church. Now, he heads his ‘own’ Kerala Congress. Simultaneously he is an undisputed leader of the Nair Service Society (NSS), the community organisation of Hindu Nairs.
During the first week of August, 2016, Pillai stirred a hornets’ nest by allegedly condemning the rites, rituals and methods of growth of Muslims and Christians. While addressing a local unit (Karayogam) meeting of NSS, in Kamukumcherry, Kollam District. Pillai is reported to have told that he cannot sleep in his party office in Thiruvananthapuram as the baang (adhan or azan) from the nearby Mosque five times a day disturbs like barking. During the baang, the nearby temples should switch their loud speakers off. He is also alleged to have told that if ten Muslims or Christians live in a locality they build a mosque or church. These days wherever you go there is a church! He is reported to have asked in his speech if no entry for Muslim women to the mosques is right; if they enter there would be bloodbath. He is also said to have told that if Justice Kurian Joseph opposes the stand of thanthris and scholars in Hindu matters with regard to women’s entry to Sabarimala, it will not be acceptable. ‘Why this delay in building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya?’ ‘Will it ever happen?’, he asked the audience. He also alleged that if a devotee offers a flower to the idol in Kashi Vishvanath Temple, it will fall in the premises of the mosque built adjacent to the temple.
Since Pillai’s party is now an ally of the ruling CPM-led LDF, CPM is in a dilemma. Pillai’s son KB Ganesh Kumar MLA, two time minister in former Congress-led UDF governments, was supported by LDF in the last assembly elections. Pillai, who was very close to the former Congress veteran and architect of UDF apparatus K Karunakaran, claims to be the co-architect of it. Now, Congress has filed a complaint against Pillai’s controversial speech. Kollam SP of police has assigned a DySP to investigate. Several Muslim bodies have come out up in arms against Pillai. Even though Pillai and his MLA son have questioned the authenticity of audio clip, people didn’t take the bait. Pillai alleges that the audio in question is a doctored version.
Pillai was in the eye of a storm due to a controversial speech in 1985. He was alleged to have said in a speech that Kerala should act like Punjab for getting the legitimate assistance and allocations from the central government. Several petitions were filed in the court alleging that Pillai advocated for Khalisthan model seditious agitation. It led to a big legal fight and Pillai had to resign as the Minister. Pillai is known for his outspoken and controversial remarks. He usually criticises RSS and BJP for even non-issues.
Meanwhile, people wonder why the so-called intellectuals keep mum on the Pillai episode. They usually jump to the BJP’s neck when some minor incidents take place in Northern parts of Bharat. And, when the pseudo secularists came to condemn his statement, Pillai knee-jerked and he apologised. Several political leaders, in private conversation, endorse what Pillai said; their only complaint is the political incorrectness of the speech. When the media carried great hue and cry from various Muslim organisations against him, Pillai tendered unconditional apology. He even went to the extent of alleging that his speech was distorted. Now, the report suggests that Kollam Police have registered a case against Pillai as per the directions from the State DGP for the alleged hate speech. He is charged under IPC Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).