PTI / Twitter image composite
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday targeted the BJP-led Centre over the Lakshadweep row and alleged that 'ignorant bigots' were destroying India's 'jewel in the ocean'. The Wayanad MP's remarks come a day after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra came down heavily upon the Centre & the administration for allegedly destroying the heritage of Lakshadweep & harassing its population. Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to join his fellow Congress leaders in affirming his support for the people of Lakshadweep.
Lakshadweep is India’s jewel in the ocean.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 26, 2021
The ignorant bigots in power are destroying it.
I stand with the people of Lakshadweep.
Congress' Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, on Tuesday, had said that the people of Lakshadweep possessed a deep understanding of their natural & cultural heritage which they have always protected and alleged that the BJP govt was attempting to impose arbitrary restrictions and rules on them. This came amid the Administrator of Lakshadweep coming under attack for a number of decisions since assuming charge, which his political opponents are quantifying under the overall umbrella of 'changing the fabric of Lakshadweep'. This includes lifting the ban on alcohol whilst imposing a ban on the beef industry, as well as complaints over the handling of COVID, as well as other logistical matters.
Claiming that 'dialogue sustains democracy', the Congress leader asked why the people of Lakshadweep couldn't be consulted before the Centre & the administration framed rules. Further, she demanded to know how a person who had no knowledge about the heritage could use his powers to destroy it, taking an apparent dig at Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel. Taking to Twitter, Priyanka Gandhi Vara referred to Lakshadweep as 'national treasure' & affirmed her support for its people.
In a jolt to the saffron party, BJP's Lakshadweep unit president Mohammad Kasim has backed the local protests in the island against the new regulations, saying the party will work towards removing them. Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Kasim said that the concerns against the new rules were genuine and that he had written to both PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah regarding it.
“Some of the new regulations are distressing for the citizens of Lakshadweep. If they are going to protest, we will be with them. We want to remove rules that are upsetting the citizens. If the new rules are not good for them, we will be working towards getting them removed. I have written to both PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, about this,” said Kasim.
Reports state that several miffed BJP leaders have also resigned in process in protest against the administration's unilateral decisions. Reports further claim that the letter written to Centre by BJP Lakshadweep unit seeking its intervention to revoke the decisions was left unanswered. On the other hand, Kerala BJP chief K Surendran has backed the administration claiming that 'Vested interest groups along with the support of radical Islamist organizations are creating a communal rift in society in the name of Lakshadweep'.
Congress general secretary KC Venugopal has written to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking Patel's removal claiming that Patel had imposed a series of "authoritarian measures" since his appointment on December 2, 2020. Meanwhile, CPI(M) has held Patel responsible for the current surge in COVID-19 cases. The Union Territory, which did not report any novel coronavirus case during the first wave, scrapped its rule of mandatory quarantine for travellers and allowed them to enter by showing negative RT-PCR negative test reports - leading to having a 60% positivity rate. The Opposition has claimed that Patel was trying to “saffronise the island” where almost 95% population is Muslim.