Thiruvananthapuram: Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) Kerala state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan Monday countered a former MP's contention that believers had no place in the party, and said the CPI-M would even field Christian priests in polls if they are 'presentable'.
'We are a party where we do not mind even putting up Christian priests as our candidate and we only look into if they are presentable to be a candidate,' Vijayan said, addressing a rally of the party's youth wing. He was reacting to the statement of former party MP K.S.Manoj, who had quit claiming there is no place for believers in the CPI-M.
Manoj, who represented Alappuzha in the previous Lok Sabha, last week said he was forced to take the decision to leave the party because he felt his religious belief stood above his party ideology. He said he was pained to see the recent rectification document which called on party leaders not to take part in religious functions.
Vijayan, however, refuted Manoj's claim, and said the number of members in the party who are believers has increased.
'We, of course, have had issues with the church but that wasn't public. Manoj has been with us for some time. He was a believer when he first became a candidate and won. In the recent polls, he lost. And after his loss he was always in Delhi, and did the call of god come to him after this, leading to his decision to cut ties with us?' Vijayan asked.
He said Manoj's charge was an old one, often used against the CPI-M, that the party was against religion and religious beliefs.
'We are not against any religion or against religious beliefs, instead we will lay down our lives to protect those who find any problem in going ahead with their beliefs from any quarter,' Vijayan said.
Manoj, a doctor by profession, trounced Congress veteran V.M. Sudheeran in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
In the May 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he was defeated by Congress' K.C. Venugopal and since then has been working as doctor in Delhi.