‘The Kerala Story’ emerged as a major issue in Karnataka polls after the Congress in its manifesto compared PFI with Bajrang Dal and assured to ban it if it comes to power in Karnataka after winning the upcoming elections thus inviting criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Pushing issues like corruption, unemployment, inflation, reservation and development to the back burner, the film ‘The Kerala Story’ found itself at the center of a nationwide debate.
The Congress gave another tool to BJP to consolidate its vote base in coastal state as well as nearby regions of Chikkamagaluru and parts of the Hubli-Dharwad region. BJP slammed Congress for supporting “terrorists”.
The Centre has banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) and several other associated organisations for five years. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declared the PFI and its front organisations including its student wing- the Campus Front of India (CFI) as an “unlawful association” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The Congress said in its manifesto, “The Congress party is committed to take firm and decisive action against individuals and organisations spreading hatred amongst communities on grounds of caste or religion.
“We believe that law and the Constitution are sacrosanct and cannot be violated by individuals and organisations like Bajrang Dal, PFI or others promoting enmity or hatred, whether among majority or minority communities. We will take decisive action as per law including imposing a ban on such organisations,” the Congress said in its manifesto.
The Prime Minister said that the film ‘The Kerala Story’ shows the ugly truth of terrorism and exposes terrorists’ design. He added that the film is based on a terror conspiracy.
PM Modi referred to The Kerala Story during campaigning in Karnataka and said, “Such a beautiful state of the country, where people are hardworking and talented. The ‘Kerala Story’ film brings out terror conspiracies happening in that state. It is unfortunate that Congress can be seen standing with this terror trend that is seeking to ruin the country. Congress is even indulging in backdoor political bargaining with people having terror inclinations. People of Karnataka should be cautious about Congress.”
He said that the film tried to expose the new form of terrorism in society. “Terrorism has taken a new form now. Apart from using weapons and bombs, they are working towards making the society hollow from the inside out.”
“The Kerala Story’ movie has exposed this new face of terrorism. The Congress has kneeled down before the terror outfits when in power. We have suffered because of the violence for very long and Congress never protected this country from terrorism. Can the Congress protect Karnataka?” he questioned while delivering his speech.
Various BJP leaders attended the screening of the film, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president JP Nadda said that there is a new type of terrorism which is without ammunition, adding that the film exposes “poisonous terrorism”.
PM Modi also hit out at the Congress party and said that Congress has shielded terrorism for the vote bank.
“Security system, law and order is the most important requirement to make Karnataka number one state of the country, the prime minister said. “It is equally important for Karnataka to remain free from terrorism. BJP has always been tough against terrorism. But Congress gets stomach ache whenever action is taken on terrorism,” PM Modi said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled States have openly endorsed the movie, with Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh announcing tax exemptions for it. However, opposition-led states argue that the film aims to incite animosity within society.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier said in a statement that the movie was deliberately made with the aim of creating communal polarisation and spreading hate propaganda against Kerala.
“At a time when I have come to pay my respects in Lord Hanuman’s land, the Congress party in its manifesto has decided to lock up Bajrangbali. Earlier, they had locked up Lord Ram and now they have resolved to lock all those who chant Jai Bajrangbali,” Prime Minister Modi said at an election rally in Hospet.
Hitting back at the Prime Minister, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said Mr Modi’s comment had hurt the religious sentiments of crores of Lord Hanuman’s devotees like him.
Helmed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, the film has triggered a massive political row with various leaders reacting to the upcoming movie.
‘The Kerala Story’ stars Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani in the lead roles. The trailer of Sen’s film ‘The Kerala Story’ came under fire as it claimed that 32,000 girls from the state went missing and later joined the terrorist group, ISIS.
Faced with backlash the makers then withdrew the figure and called the movie the story of three women from Kerala, in its trailer description.
‘The Kerala Story’ has been facing protests across the country due to its storyline for quite some time.
On Monday, during a media interaction filmmaker, Sudipto Sen opened up on the ongoing controversy related to his recent release film ‘The Kerala Story’.
Sudipto shared the backlash he and his team received after the teaser release, “We have two testimonies, if you will see them you will laugh. Once our teaser was released, one boy was constantly abusing our co-producer for the last two months. Yesterday after watching our film, the boy texted, ‘I apologize to you publicly, I have no other objection.’ And I too got abusive texts. So, if you guys feel that justification has not been done to the story after watching the movie, then you guys can take those two testimonials from us and you will come to know.”
After facing protests from political parties and right-wing organisations, Congress backtracked from its stand of banning Bajrang Dal, senior leader M Veerappa Moily said there was no proposal to ban Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the RSS-affiliated VHP.
The former Karnataka Chief Minister said, “We haven’t said we will ban Bajrang Dal. We said organisations like PFI, Bajrang Dal disrupt peace in society. I was a law minister in Karnataka, state government can’t do it, even Bajrang Dal can’t be banned by the state government.”
Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar said, “We have a commitment to the development of Anjaneya (Lord Hanuman) temples across the state if the Congress party comes to power. Our party will also prioritise the construction of new Anjaneya (Lord Hanuman) temples in various parts of the state.”
“We will establish a special board to oversee the development of Anjanadri Hill and ensure its preservation. We will organise specific programs aimed at educating the youth about the principles and values embodied by Lord Anjaneya,” he said.
Voting will be held today for 224 assembly constituencies in Karnataka with 2,615 candidates in the fray.
According to the Election Commission of India, the voting for Karnataka assembly elections will take place from 7 am to 6 pm tomorrow. The majority mark to form the government is 113 seats.
The BJP, though it might be facing an air of anti-incumbency, is eyeing a second term in the state and has exuded confidence in retaining power with a full majority.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the party will return to power with a full majority.
Home Minister Amit Shah said, “BJP will win 135 seats in the Karnataka Assembly election.
The results on May 13 will show whether the assurances given by Congress have damaged its prospects to form the government in the state or not.
This report is filed by ANI news service.