Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala legislative assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the controversial policies of Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel and demanded their withdrawal as well as Patel’s recall.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled the resolution and said the Union territory has become the latest laboratory of Sangh Parivar outfits that should be opposed by all democratic forces.
The resolution said that the people of Lakshadweep are in a tight spot. “Their culture and tradition are under threat following dictatorial measures being taken by the administrator ignoring local protests. Even their food habits and livelihood are under threat,” the resolution read.
The original resolution had no direct attack against the Centre, but it was later incorporated after the opposition sought amendments. “People of the island are peace-loving. The administrator is taking many measures to alienate them. In the name of development their livelihood was threatened. Even coconut trees are painted with saffron colour in the name of beautification,” the resolution said.
Lakshadweep has been on the boil for the last two weeks after UT administrator Patel, the former home minister of Gujarat and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from India’s westernmost state, brought in a new set of rules that include a proposed cow slaughter ban, a preventive detention law and sweeping changes in land development regulations.
“Steps are being taken to eliminate beef which is an important part of the staple food. Measures are also being taken to ban cow slaughter and close dairy farms. The administrator is taking the lead in gradually destroying the life and culture of the people of Lakshadweep,” the resolution read.
The BJP shot back. “We condemn the resolution. Earlier the assembly had passed a resolution to free cleric Abdul Nassar Madani, accused in a bomb blast case. Later he was re-arrested and now he’s languishing in a jail in Karnataka,” said party’s Kerala president K Surendran.
The opposition parties have been decrying what they allege are attempts by the BJP to “saffronise the island by imposing many new rules inimical to island culture.” Some Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist) members of Parliament from Kerala had even complained to the President about this. On Sunday, a team of CPI (M) MPs from Kerala also alleged that they were denied permission to visit the islands by the UT administration that cited Covid-19 restrictions.
BJP has all throughout backed the proposed new rules and said that people with vested interests have been spreading misinformation. It said that the UT administration was trying to develop the islands as a major tourism hub like the Maldives and had the full support of the locals.
But this hasn’t placated its own party members in the Union territory, many of whom have quit the party in protest. A local BJP delegation is in Delhi to talk to home minister Amit Shah and update him on the ground situation.
Meanwhile, protests continue both online and offline. On Sunday, many social media users observed a ‘black day’ by uploading dark display pictures as part of the ‘Save Lakshadweep’ campaign. Many film personalities and artists have pledged their support to it.