Kottayam/Kochi, Sep 17 (PTI): A day after the Congress initiated conciliatory talks to bridge the gap created between two communities following the remarks by a bishop, Kerala Minister V N Vasavan on Friday visited the bishop Joseph Kallarangatt at the latter's house.
Vasavan, who met the media later, said his visit has nothing to do with the remark but said certain extremist forces want to create issues.
The bishop had said Christian girls were falling prey to what he said was love and narcotic jihad in Kerala and that wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth. However, KPCC (Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee) president K Sudhakaran said there was no need to not believe the bishop and it was the responsibility of the State government to probe into the truth behind his remark. "The bishop is a scholar and is well-versed in religious books, including the Bible, the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita. We have shared many a platform and I used to listen to his speeches. I couldn't visit him earlier for various reasons. This (today's) was a personal visit," Vasavan told the reporters and dismissed the question whether he was a messenger of the State government.
Vasavan said other leaders from BJP and the Congress might have visited the bishop with some dubious intentions.
"With regard to the controversy, the Chief Minister had given the reply. He had said that the government will not allow anyone to destroy the prevailing peace in the State," he said.
Vasavan said during his visit he did not discuss with the bishop the controversy.
"The discussion on that remark is over. The Chief Minister had made known the stand of the government. However, there are certain extremist forces which want to create issues in the State and the government does not intend to compromise on any form of terrorism," he said.
Sudhakaran, during a meet-the-press programme organised in Kochi, said the Left government has failed to look into the reason behind certain controversies.
"There is no need to disbelieve the bishop. It was the responsibility of the government to probe into and bring out the truth behind what the bishop had said. Everyone should jointly analyse the right and wrong in the statement. The government failed to look into the reasons behind certain controversies in the State," Sudhakaran said.
The Congress chief said even after repeated requests to the Chief Minister to take steps against incidents affecting communal harmony, the government refuses to act.
"The talks over narcotic jihad need to end now. The Congress party cannot stand and watch the destruction of secularism. It was the responsibility of the State government to mitigate the issue," Sudhakaran added.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and its former State chief C K Padmanabhan said one cannot blame any particular religion for the narcotics issue.
"There is no need to take the statement of the bishop in a serious manner. The menace of narcotics does not affect any particular religion. One cannot blame any particular religion for the issue. People should be careful while using the terms," Padmanabhan told the media in Kannur.
The statement of Padmanabhan assumes significance as the BJP had alleged that the Congress and the CPI(M) were taking a position in favour of extremist elements creating trouble in society instead of addressing the issue raised by the senior priest.
On Thursday, KPCC chief Sudhakaran and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan met senior priests of Christian and Muslim communities as part of the Opposition party's effort to bridge the gap created between the two communities following the remark of the bishop.
Both Sudhakaran and Satheesan visited archbishop Joseph Perumthottam at Changanassery archdiocese this morning before meeting the Church of South India (CSI) Central Diocese Bishop Dr Malayil Sabu Koshy Cherian and Kerala Muslim Youth Federation state president and Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid Imam Shamsuddin Mannani Ilavupalam in Kottayam.
The Congress leaders' move came after the the BJP tried to reap political benefits by supporting the bishop on the matter.