Thiruvananthapuram: Setting aside political differences, ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and opposition Congress headed UDF in Kerala held a joint protest against the amended Citizenship Act here on Monday with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slamming the move as an attempt to "curb freedom".
In a rare show of unity in the bi-polar state dominated by the two arch-rivals, Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala shared the platform at a meeting organised at the Martyr's Column and condemned the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and exchanged pleasantries.
At the joint meeting, the first such in the country against the Centre over the issue, both the fronts attacked the BJP-led NDA, the RSS and the Sangh Parivar, alleging the amendment had been brought in as part of their agenda to divide the people and create "a religious state".
The state also witnessed protests against CAA by various organisations and student and youth outfits who took out rallies. Trains were blocked at different places.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan appealed to those protesting against the CAA to desist from indulging in any violence, saying none had the right to take law into their own hands.
Addressing the protest here, Vijayan said the country was facing an "explosive" atmosphere and the Citizenship Amendment Act was an attempt to "curb" the freedom which India attained through the sacrifices of many.
Claiming that the amendment altered the basic structure of the Constitution and was "unconstitutional", he said the new law has omitted those who have faced worse persecution in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
"Article 14 provides equality to all citizens. When a law is against the fundamental rights, its unconstitutional...The government is silent about the Sri Lankan Tamils, thousands of Rohingyas.. Even the United Nations has come out openly against this law," Vijayan added.
The joint protest expressed solidarity with the protesters across the nation and the chief minister said if anyone declares that minorities cannot be considered as citizens, Kerala will oppose it and will not implement any such laws.
"People were worried on how we will oppose a central law. Let me make our stand clear. We all took oath under the Constitution of India. We will oppose anyone who tries to destroy our Constitution. Our allegiance is to the Constitution and not to the agenda of the RSS," Vijayan said.
He alleged the present 'crisis' in the country was "deliberately created" by the Centre and the "RSS agenda was to ensure that India should not be a secular, but a religious nation".
Though Vijayan and Chennithala often cross swords in the Assembly over various issues, the two leaders were seen exchanging pleasantries as they shook hands with each other.
This is perhaps for the first time that the ruling and opposition fronts have come together in Kerala to jointly organise a protest against the Union government.
Chennithala alleged the Sangh Parivar was "experimenting" with the agenda of Hitler in India and those opposing it were being threatened.
"The model before them (RSS) is the Nazi Germany of (Adolf) Hitler. Sangh Parivar is experimenting with Hitler's agenda. The secularism and the brotherhood of our country is threatened by igniting fake nationalism among the people," he said.
There was an atmosphere of fear prevailing in the country and those opposing the government were being threatened, he said.
"The media which opposes it is being threatened using corporate power. Those who write against it are being threatened. Those who oppose against their agenda are put behind bars using ED (Enforcement Directorate)," he said.
State ministers EP Jayarajan, AK Balan, E Chandrasekharan, Kadakampally Surendran and Kadanapally Ramachandran and a host of UDF leaders, including PJ Joseph, MK Muneer and Anoop Jacob, attended the protest meeting.
Secretary of the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama Kanthapuram Aboobacker Musaliyar, who also addressed the gathering, said India was a land of all religions.
Meanwhile, over two dozens organisations, association of various government departments also gathered at the venue expressing solidarity with the joint meet.
The state BJP hit out at both the fronts saying they have joined hands even though they fight each other in elections. "The attempts of the two fronts are to woo the Muslim vote bank," BJP general secretary K Surendran told the media.
Students of various varsities and colleges across the state on Monday took out marches protesting the CAA and the police action against students of the Jamia Millia university in Delhi on Sunday night.
Various political parties and organisations also hit the streets in Kerala protesting against the CAA.
Trains were blocked at Thiruvalla, Kollam and Palakaad with activists squatting on the rail tracks on Monday morning, delaying a few trains.
The activists of DYFI, KSU and SFI took out protest marches to the Raj Bhavan here past midnight on Sunday, besides blocking trains at various places including Kozhikode, Thalassery and Kochi.
A group of Youth Congress workers waved black flags at Manipur Governor Nejma Hepatulla, who was on her way to the airport in Kochi to board a flight to Lakshadweep.
A Joint Action Committee (JAC) of a group of over 30 outfits, opposing the implementation of CAA, has called for a state-wide hartal on Tuesday.
While the BJP in Kerala slammed the hartal call, saying it was "unnecessary" and against "national interest", other major political parties, including the CPI(M), Congress, CPI and Muslim outfits, have also opposed the protest saying it was unnecessary.