Congress’s Rahul Gandhi today expressed solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep, who have been protesting for days against the administrator appointed by the Centre over the restrictions he has imposed. The Opposition parties in the islands have stepped up their campaign seeking recall of the administrator, who, they said, have been carrying out ”anti-people” reforms.
“Lakshadweep is India’s jewel in the ocean. The ignorant bigots in power are destroying it. I stand with the people of Lakshadweep,” read the tweet of the leader, whose party has accused administrator Praful K Patel of “destroying the peace and culture” of the islands, and “harassing” the people with his arbitrary restrictions.
Lakshadweep is India’s jewel in the ocean.
The ignorant bigots in power are destroying it.
I stand with the people of Lakshadweep.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 26, 2021
The anti-BJP parties Lakshadweep and Kerala have been up in arms against the administrator who, they say, unilaterally lifted restrictions on the use of alcohol in the Muslim-majority islands, banned beef products, and demolished fishermen’s sheds built on the coastal areas, saying they violated the Coast Guard Act.
The Congress has alleged that Mr Patel has taken away powers of panchayats and imposed a set of arbitrary new rules, including the Prevention of Anti-Social Activity (PASA) Act.
Yesterday, Mr Gandhi’s sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted on the issue. “I extend my full support to the people of Lakshadweep. I will always stand by you and fight for your right to protect your heritage. It is a national treasure that we all cherish,” her post read.
“The BJP government and its administration have no business to destroy this heritage, to harass the people of Lakshadweep or to impose arbitrary restrictions and rules on them,” read another post.
Seeking recall of the administrator, Congress’s KC Venugopal wrote to the President: “The local people fear that all these unilateral and anti-people decisions would ultimately lead to the destruction of traditional livelihood and unique culture of Lakshadweep. This has created huge unrest and protest among the local population there”.
The reports from the islands have caused concern in Left-ruled Kerala, which shares cultural ties with the islands.
“Implementing the Goonda Act in a region where law and order and crime are non-existent, opening up alcohol trade among a people who do not consume it… they may seem like Tughlaqian changes, but, clearly, it is an anti-Muslim anger that is sweeping like a cyclonic storm,” former Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said in a Facebook post.
The BJP has firmly backed the administrator, saying the new rules are reforms meant to end corrupt practices of local politicians, who are now playing “divisive politics”.