Thousands of people participated in a mass rally organised by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee in solidarity with the Palestinian people in this northern district of the state on Thursday.
People from various walks of life, along with a large number of leaders and workers of the Congress party, gathered at the beach here to express support for the war-ravaged people of Palestine.
Earlier, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Indian Union Muslim League, a prominent ally in the opposition UDF, and several other parties also organised mass rallies to voice their strong protest against the war waged by Israel and express their concern over the plight of the Palestinian people.
All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal and Congress Working Committee member Shashi Tharoor rejected the political opponents' campaign that the grand old party changed its stand on the Palestine issue and harshly criticised the Modi government's foreign policy.
Inaugurating the solidarity rally, Venugopal, a Rajya Sabha MP, strongly condemned the war unleashed by Israel in Gaza and their attacks against hospitals and refugee camps there.
Making it clear that the Congress party has only one stand on the Palestine issue, he said it was the one evolved by Mahatma Gandhi, adopted by Jawaharlal Nehru, and strongly followed by Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi.
Venugopal recalled that all the Congress governments in post-independent India had taken a strong stand against Israel's invasion and supported the fight of the Palestinian people for their right to lead a dignified life in their homeland.
Venugopal said India's stand on the issue changed only recently after the Narendra Modi government came to power.
Strongly condemning India's abstention from voting in a resolution moved by various countries in the UN to stop the ongoing war in West Asia, the MP said the union government's actions brought disgrace to the entire people of the country.
Describing Modi and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "the same type", the AICC general secretary further charged that under the Bharatiya Janata Party government, the country's external affairs policy has been used as a public relations exercise to ensure the victory of the ruling party in elections.
In an apparent dig at the CPI-M, which recently criticised the Congress's stand on the Palestine issue and raised suspicion about it, Venugopal said the grand old party has a clear and strong stand on the matter, and is not constrained by any iron curtain.
No one needs to claim the monopoly of solidarity with Palestine, he said, adding that the Congress's support for the West Asian country was not for votes.
In his address, Tharoor shared the shocking details of human casualties and the widespread destruction witnessed by Gaza in the ongoing war that erupted 45 days ago.
Describing the plight of Palestinians as a "disastrous episode in human history", he stated that they have every right to live a safe and dignified life in their homeland.
Tharoor emphasised that it is not an issue of religion but of humanity, adding that no religion urges people to kill their fellow beings.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP rejected criticism from political opponents that the Congress party had been silent on the Palestine issue in the wake of assembly elections in some states.
He highlighted that Sonia Gandhi recently wrote an article in national dailies detailing the Congress's stand, and Priyanka Gandhi mentioned the issue in her election rallies as well.
"Palestine solidarity is not a new thing for the Congress Party. It has been continuing without any change since the time of Gandhiji and Nehru," he asserted.
Strongly criticising India's decision to abstain from voting in the UN General Assembly on the resolution demanding an immediate truce in the ongoing war, Tharoor said that no Congress member could tolerate such a stance.
He also addressed the controversy surrounding some of his remarks during the Palestine solidarity rally organised by the IUML recently, stating that he has always adopted a pro-Palestine stand similar to that of the Congress party.
He clarified that he never supported Israel's attack anywhere in his speech, and further emphasised that he doesn't need to be taught the issue, as he has direct knowledge about the real situation in West Asia from his years of work at the UN.
"It is not politics, but the grief and sufferings of people that should be considered," the Congress leader said, adding that "narrow politics should not be played" by standing on the "kabar" (graveyards) of innocent children.
Leader of Opposition in the state assembly VD Satheesan and senior leader Ramesh Chennithala also strongly criticised the Marxist party's "attempt to reap political benefits" over the issue, alleging that the ruling party had taken a pro-Palestine stand with an eye on the vote bank.
KPCC chief K Sudhakaran, various front leaders of the UDF, and religious heads also took part in the mammoth rally.