Chief of LDF ally stirs ‘love jihad’ pot ahead of Kerala Assembly polls

In a TV programme, Jose, who is contesting from Pala constituency in Kottayam said, “Love jihad has again come up as an issue. Society has apprehensions about it. As the issue has emerged again, the apprehensions about it should be cleared.”

In what could blow up into major controversy for the ruling LDF ahead of Kerala Assembly election, regional Christian party and ally Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K Mani on Sunday raked up ‘love jihad’.

In a TV programme, Jose, who is contesting from Pala constituency in Kottayam said, “Love jihad has again come up as an issue. Society has apprehensions about it. As the issue has emerged again, the apprehensions about it should be cleared.”

The battle for Pala constituency, which has a sizable chunk of Catholic votes, will pit against sitting legislator and NCP (Kerala) leader Mani C Kappan, who drifted away from the LDF. The Catholic Church has, of late, persistently raised the issue of ‘love jihad’ and has even sought support of the BJP.

BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh recently brought laws making ‘love jihad’ punishable. It is believed that by making such claims, Jose is looking to boost his electoral prospects in Pala and it could be a ploy to quell the stiff challenge from Kappan.

Last week, the BJP manifesto had promised a legislation against love jihad, if voted to power in the state. However, none of the parties in the LDF or Congress-led UDF has openly raised the issue yet.

After UP brought the law against ‘love jihad’, the CPI(M) had deplored it. Then, CPI (M) state secretary and LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan had said ‘love jihad’ is a construct of extreme Hindutva forces. It is a creation on the lines of Hindutva agenda, he added.

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