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CPI(M), Congress say banning extremist orgs like PFI not the solution


“RSS was banned twice. Did that stop them?” asked CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury. Leaders of both the Congress and CPI(M) said past experiences show such bans are not effective.
Jairam Ramesh (left) and Sitaram Yechury
The Indian National Congress (INC) in an official statement reacting to the ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its related organisations has said that the party has always been and will continue to be against all forms of communalism and that differentiating between majority and minority does not make any difference.
“The Congress policy has always been to fight uncompromisingly all ideologies and institutions that abuse religion for polarising our society,” said a statement by Jairam Ramesh, MP and General Secretary in charge of communications, AICC. 
“The fight is of utmost priority to preserve, protect and celebrate the secular and composite construct of our society and nationhood,” the statement said. The PFI and its associates have been declared as an unlawful organisation and were banned with immediate effect on Wednesday, September 28, for a period of five years.
The Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in a statement, said the PFI is an organisation which holds extremist views and has been indulging in violent activities against its perceived opponents. Stating that the party was opposed to these extremist views and has always condemned the violent activities of the PFI, it said notifying the organisation as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is not the way to tackle this problem. “Past experience has shown that bans on organisations like the RSS and the Maoists were not effective,” the statement said. “All these forces, whether they represent extremist majority or minority groups, must be combated by utilising the regular laws of the land and by firm administrative action,” it added
CPI(M) has been strongly opposed to these extremist views and has always condemned the violent activities of the PFI.

However, the notification of the PFI as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is not the way to tackle this problem (1/n) pic.twitter.com/8kkzABGT4Y
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) September 28, 2022

While the official statement of the Congress was carefully worded, statements by state units of the party in Karnataka were critical of majority communalism and the role played by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress in Karnataka said the PFI and SDPI were like two sides of the same coin. In a tweet, the official handle of the party’s Karnataka state unit questioned the BJP for not raising its voice against the SDPI, which it said is more active in electoral politics. “What is the relationship between the BJP and SDPI? What kind of understanding did BJP have with PFI?” asked @INCKarnataka.
VD Satheesan, Opposition Leader in Kerala, said that all funadementalist forces need to be reined in. “It is not possible to rein in organisations like the Popular Front solely with the ban. The Congress opposes religious fundamentalism by both the majority and minority and has never taken a stance that would compromise with such forces. Both the Social Democratic Party of India and the RSS function with mutual cooperation. Such forces cannot be encouraged at any cost,” he said in a statement. 
PFI and associates banned for five years: Full list of reasons given by Union govt
Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of the CPI(M), while addressing a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday said a ban is not a solution to extremism. He said the party opposes all kinds of extremism. “RSS had been banned twice after Mahatma Gandhi ‘s assassination. Did that stop them?” he asked in a press meet at the party Kerala headquarters, AKG Centre, in Thiruvananthapuram. He blamed extremist violence in Kerala for retaliatory killings undertaken by the PFI and RSS. 
Yechury said bans have not worked in the past. “Same people will work with different names and as different organisations. We have seen this happen. SIMI (Students’ Isamlic Movement of India) was banned but they started another one. If you are going to indulge in bulldozer politics and  communal hatred against the minorities, you are creating that atmosphere. That must end,” he said. CPI(M) Kerala State Secretary MV Govindan on Tuesday said that if a ban is enforced it’s the RSS that should be banned first.
The BJP in Telangana welcomed the ban. ”Only a strong government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can take such decisive action in the interest of national security. Non-BJP state governments, over the years, driven by their political compulsion for minority appeasement have let dangerous organisations like the PFI grow nationally,” a statement issued by K Krishna Sagar Rao, Chief Spokesperson of the party in Telangana, said.

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