Kerala Assembly Speaker A N Shamseer on Wednesday made it clear that he never intended to hurt the sentiments of anyone believing in any religion, and that the ongoing controversy over his recent remarks on Lord Ganesha was “very unfortunate”.
Under attack from various quarters over his recent speech in a school in Ernakulam district, the Speaker said he, in his capacity as a person holding the constitutional post, only urged for promoting scientific temper.
Stating that he has nothing more to say over what CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan has said in the press conference, Shamseer said he made the speech referring to Articles 25 and 51 of the Constitution and sought to know how an urge to inculcate scientific temper could become anti-religious.
In one part of the Constitution, it is mentioned about religious freedom and at the same time it also asks one to promote scientific temper in another part, he said.
“As a person upholding a constitutional post, when you say that scientific temper should be promoted, how can it be hurting religious faith?” Shamseer asked. He also voiced against attempts to mix science with faith.
Earlier in the day, CPI(M) leader Govindan made it clear that Shamseer would not apologise for his controversial remarks and endorsed what the Speaker had said in his speech, accusing the Centre of trying to teach children Hindu myths instead of accomplishments in science and technology.
Shamseer, a state committee member of the CPI(M), represents Thalassery constituency in the state legislature.
Justifying his remarks, Shamseer said to say that a scientific awareness should be developed is in accordance with the Constitution.
He claimed that after the controversy erupted over the remarks, several people supported him saying that what he said was right.
The Speaker said he was not the first person to make such a statement, and many others had made similar remarks on earlier occasions.
Reacting to queries on the issue, Shamseer hit back at the critics and said he was not a person suddenly air-dropped as a Speaker but grew through youth movements, and no one has the right to question his secular credentials.
“To be honest, to be frank, I am not a person who hurts the sentiments of anyone believing in any religion. I am a person who respects all religious beliefs and is not the one who hurts anyone’s faith,” he said.
Claiming that devotees and religious believers are on his side, Shamseer said they know very well that he didn’t hurt their faith or sentiments.
“I never intended to hurt the sentiments of anyone believing in any religion… What is going on in the state over this matter is very unfortunate,” he said.
Stating that a hate campaign is going on in India and vested interests are trying to launch it in Kerala as well, the Speaker said the attempt to flare up the row over his remarks is part of that agenda.
He alleged the role of the Sangh Parivar in such campaigns and urged devotees not to fall into their trap.
When asked about the protests organised by NSS, the influential organisation of the forward Nair community in the state, the Speaker said that as an organisation they have the right to protest on any issue.
“As I have all the right to express my thoughts, the NSS and its general secretary, Sukumaran Nair, have all the freedom to protest and say their opinions,” he said.
Shamseer said there is no personal issue between Nair and him, and as a community leader, there was nothing wrong for him to speak about religious beliefs.
His statements came hours after Sukumaran Nair said in Changanassery that Shamseer’s recent remarks against Lord Ganesha were “anti-Hindu”, and that he had no right to continue in the position of Assembly Speaker.
“It has hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community, and we cannot compromise on the issue,” he said in the morning.
The NSS alleged that Shamseer’s alleged remarks that Lord Ganesha was a myth and that the belief had no scientific basis had hurt the sentiments of the Hindus.
The organisation observed ‘Save the Faith Day’ today against the Speaker’s comments.
As a mark of protest, a large number of Hindu devotees and NSS members offered prayers at Lord Ganesha temples across Kerala.
During an event organised at a school in Ernakulam district recently, Shamseer allegedly accused the Centre of trying to teach children Hindu myths instead of accomplishments in science and technology.
The BJP and right-wing outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have already launched a campaign against Shamseer, saying they are aggrieved over the Speaker’s remarks regarding Lord Ganesha and the mythical ‘pushpaka vimanam’.
The ruling CPI(M) had on Saturday strongly condemned the campaign by the Sangh Parivar against Shamseer over his reported controversial remarks.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)