Thiruvananthapuram: The resignation of former MP Dr K S Manonj from CPI-M, raising the issue of "faith" has come as a jolt to the party as it plans to broadbase its support by attracting minorities.
Manoj, who wrested Alppuzha Lok Sabha seat from Congress in 2004, but was defeated in 2009, resigned from the party last night, saying it was difficult for him to follow the recent party directive, insisting that its members refrain from participating in religious rites and ceremonies.
This norm was adopted by the party`s central leadership as part of its "rectification" process in the wake of the electoral debacle to stem `wrong tendencies and shortcomings` in its ranks to strengthen their orientation to Marxist values.
A medical doctor who took up social work as a member of the Catholic Youth Movement, Manoj said it was difficult for him to do justice to the directive as he was a believer and a participant in religious rites.
He, however, said he had no quarrel with the party and the decision to give up membership was purely personal.
The resignation of Manoj comes months after the expulsion of former MP from Kannur A P Abdullakutty, who had also embarrassed the party through his open acknowledgement of his faith.
He had since then joined Congress and got elected to the Assembly through a by-election.
Manoj and Abdullakutty were often projected as the "minority faces" of the CPI-M.
Over the last couple of decades, the CPI-M in Kerala has been working hard to strengthen its support among minorities, since Muslims and Christians form about 40 percent of the state`s total population.
The CPI-M leadership had often in the past taken great pains to explain that the party is not opposed to believers in religion and God.
At the same time, there is a section in the party who believe that allowing its cadre to openly practice religion would do long-term harm to the party, whose ideological basis is "dialectical materialism."
Interestingly, the party did not come in the way of Manoj`s faith when he was made the candidate or when he took oath in the name of God.
According to Manoj, the new directive on faith did not go well with the Indian Constitution and the national ethos.
Reacting to Manoj`s resignation, his former colleague Abdullakutty said "whatever he said about the faith and CPI-M has once again been proved right."
Though the CPI-M is yet to come out with its reaction to his resignation, party sources said his action would not have any
The sources also rejected the view that this would send a wrong signal to minorities, maintaining that "people know that we have been in the forefront of struggles for minority rights whenever they came under attack"