Thiruvananthapuram: Freedom of expression is a two-way ticket and those who do not adhere to it will find themselves pathetically exposed. This is what the public in Kerala have been witnessing for the past few days since the launch of the trailer of the movie ‘The Kerala Story’, which discusses the Islamic State’s recruitment of young girls by converting them from other religions and trafficked to war-torn countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.
Communist and Congress leaders were quick to jump into the fray to oppose the movie and calling for a ban since it showed the minority community in a bad light.
However, their double standards on freedom of expression were quickly exposed. This has led to communist leaders to tone down their call for ban of the movie. LDF Convener and senior CPI(M) leader EP Jayaraj said that banning the movie will not put an end to the problem.
Similarly, CPI(M) State Secretar MV Govindan said that though his party would oppose the movie, it would not demand a ban on it. He also put the ball in the state government’s court saying that it is the government’s call to ban it or not.
Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, had slammed the movie saying that it is the plan of the Sangh Parivar to destroy the communal harmony of the state.
Taking a tough stand against the movie, senior Congress leader, MM Hassan, urged the state government to ban the movie. Strangely, he also called for a ban on a drama called Kakukali, which is against the Christian community. It is to be noted that no one had bothered to comment on the drama Kakukali till the issue of The Kerala Story began to flare up. Many believe that it is a balancing act by MM Hassan to get support for his call for the ban on the movie.
While Congress leaders like Hassan called for a ban on the movie, leaders like Shashi Tharoor did not favour a ban but instead said that the movie was a misinterpretation of Kerala.
The sudden change in the tone of political leaders from both the Congress and Communist camps comes after they realized that they cannot oppose and support freedom of expression at the same time. People in Kerala still remember how these leaders rushed to support novelist S Harish who insulted the Hindu community in his novel ‘Meesha’.
These very leaders who oppose The Kerala Story went overboard in supporting a writer’s freedom of expression when he denigrated the majority community.
The Kerala society has begun to see through these double standards of the Congress and Communist leaders as is evident from the seemingly different opinions of these leaders on the same issue.