In his address at the Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan last Friday, former legislator P.C. George ramped up his rhetoric against the Muslim community – a tediously recurring characteristic of his public speeches of late.
The episode, which is the latest in the long list of controversies he has courted in his political life, is widely regarded as the continuation of a widening discord between him and a section of the Muslim electorate since Parliament elections of 2019.
Using more inflammatory language than many of far-right outfits, Mr. George has effectively fashioned a narrative linking Muslims to an uptick in conversion of Christian and Hindu girls and perceived strains on the social fabric of the State. His key themes – from love jihad to Islamic terrorism and rising crimes – have taken up more space in the public discourse of central Kerala in recent years.
Despite the staunch opposition from the ruling coalition as well as the Opposition parties, Mr. George, apparently desperate to remain relevant in the State politics, has continued to ride the widening trust deficit between Christians and Muslims, a concern legitimised by the Catholic church through Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt.
The collision course, however, has not been without setbacks. Having contested as an Independent, Mr. George lost his sitting seat at Poonjar in the Assembly elections last year primarily owing to a consolidation of Muslim votes against him.
Prior to the loss, he had to pull back from the election campaign at Erattupetta after being consistently booed and heckled for his anti-Muslim remarks. In view of the stiff opposition, Mr. George issued an unconditional apology and tried moving on. It, however, cut no ice with the protesters who appeared intent on forcing him to eat humble pie.
Having worked with both major splinter groups of the Kerala Congress respectively led by P.J. Joseph and K.M. Mani, Mr. George later floated his own outfit, the Kerala Congress (Secular) which became a constituent of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and later merged with the Kerala Congress (M) in 2008. He was expelled from the party in 2016 after he fell out with party leader K.M. Mani.
Later in 2019, he floated another party named the Kerala Janapaksham (Secular), which joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) just ahead of Parliament elections in 2019. The move, which came in the back drop of the Sabarimala protests led by the Sangh Parivar organisations, backfired and Mr. George exited from the association.
His relationship with the Muslim electorate, however, had already begun to sour by then and it took a turn for the worse when Mr. George allegedly termed the Muslims of Erattupetta as terrorists – a remark he has since denied.