Why Lakshadweep BJP leaders are leaving the party?

File Image. Courtesy to Amit Shah

At least 50 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members in Lakshadweep, including the general secretary, have submitted their resignation Since May protesting the Union Territory administration’s undemocratic reforms and draconian regulations and the saffron party’s response in dealing with the islanders’ concern.

At least 13 members have submitted their resignation letter on Friday protesting the sedition case filed against the filmmaker Aisha Sultana. The case was registered based on a complaint filed by C Abdul Khader Haji, president of the BJP’s Lakshadweep unit. In his complaint, Abdul Khader had cited Sultana’s remark during a discussion on Malayalam TV Channel in which she said the Union government using the administrator Praful K Patel as a “bio weapon”.

The resigned members included BJP state general secretary MP Sayed Mohammed Koya, state secretary Abdul Hameed Mullippura, Khadi Board member Saifullah Pakkkiyoda and Waqf Board member Ummul kulooos Puthiyapura.

In their resignation letter, they said Aisha was only expressing the islanders’ concern on the draconian reforms proposed by Praful K Patel. They defended her and said that the BJP president’s allegations against her were untruthful and will destroy future of Aisha Sultana, first women filmmaker in Lakshadweep.

“Aisha is a highly talented girl. She is our pride. Tagging her as anti-national might affect her filmmaking career,” Abdul Hameed Mullippura who resigned from BJP told Maktoob.

The resigned general secretary Sayed Mohammed Koya, who joined the BJP in 2013 had contested as the BJP candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, told that he and many others resigned fearing the social boycott followed by the party’s decision in filing a sedition case against Aisha Sultana.

“People stopped talking to us and considered us as traitors. My children complained that they were feeling very uncomfortable as people are hostile towards them. Many of the islanders were not happy with us due to our support of the administration. This is a small place with a high population density. You cannot survive here without the islanders’ cooperation,” Koya said.

He alleged that BJP national vice president A P Abdullakutty, who is in-charge of Lakshadweep, and the state secretary Advocate Muthukoya were solely responsible for the people’s hatred towards the party. Following Aisha Sultana’s remarks, Abdullakutty had instructed the party workers on the island to protest by holding placards against the filmmaker. “We participated in the protest by holding placards which says ‘Reject Aisha Sultana, Boycott Media One, We support our administration’. The absurd move turned the islanders against us,” Koya added.

Responding to the allegation, Abdullakutty told the media that the decision to file the complaint was taken after discussion at the party. He added that the complaint was filed considering the sentiments of party workers. Maktoob tried contacting Abdullakutty but the call went unanswered. The story will be updated after we got a reply from him.

Meanwhile, the Save Lakshadweep Forum, a joint action council that consists of all political parties in the archipelago, is planning to expel the member of BJP from the committee. The BJP representative Kasim Koya told the forum that he will pressurise the party leadership to withdraw the complaint filed against Aisha Sultana and if failed to do so he will stay away from the committee.

“The BJP had failed to pressurise the Union government to withdraw the undemocratic reforms and are also busily criminalising the people who raised their dissent,” Save Lakshadweep Forum joint convenor UCK Thangal told Maktoob.

Earlier in May, at least 8 members had resigned from the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Yuva Juna Morcha (BJYM) protesting the Lakshadweep collector Asker Aali’s remark during a press conference that describes island as a den of narcotic and terrorist activities. While talking to the online portal Dweep Diary, the resigned BJYM state general secretary Muhammed Hashim had told that the collector’s statement had hurt his dignity as an islander, and the state and central leadership of the saffron party is not paying any heeds towards the party members’ concern.

“I will not switch party as Abdullakutty and Muthukoya does. Instead, I will spend the peaceful time with my family and looking after small business,” Sayed Muhammed Koya told Maktoob while asked about his plans.

Sources hint that many members will resign from the lotus party in the following days.

Lakshadweep newly-appointed administrator Patel’s recent decisions and draconian regulations have caused discontent in the Muslim-majority islands.

He has been accused of implementing Goonda Act in a place where least number of violent crimes reported in the country, banning beef products in a place the meat is widely consumed, demolishing fishermen’s sheds in coastal areas for violating the Coast Guard Act and revoking restrictions on the consumption of alcohol.

The former Gujarat BJP Minister of State for Home Praful Patel said to be very close to the Prime Minister’s office, RSS and BJP leadership.