THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/THRISSUR: Actor Suresh Gopi, the BJP candidate in Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency, was in a spot of bother after Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena on Sunday agreed with the District Collector that “prima facie” he has violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) when he invoked the name of god during an election speech.
Stating that the action by Collector T V Anupama, who is also the Returning Officer, in issuing the notice was justified, Meena said Gopi can petition against her action. During the NDA convention on Friday at the Thekkinkad Maidan in Thrissur, Gopi sought votes in the name of Sabarimala and invoked ‘Ayyan’. He said the devotees would give the answer to the government’s brutal actions through their mandate.
Gopi told reporters in Thrissur on Sunday, “It’s a sad plight that devotees are prohibited from even speaking about their favourite god.”
“People will give a fitting reply to this,” he said. Gopi also said the Collector can check the meaning of ‘Ayyan’ and that he has nothing more to say about it. “The reply to the notice will be submitted after discussing with the party,” he said, adding he has time till Monday to submit the explanation.
The BJP has come down heavily on Meena and Collector for their action against Gopi. Party state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said Meena has acted with prejudice. “He (Meena) should’ve first heard the appeal against the returning officer who has declared Suresh Gopi an accused. I can also tell you categorically that Gopi hasn’t sought vote in the name of Lord Ayyappa and his speech was misquoted,” Pillai told ‘Express’. BJP spokesperson B Gopalakrishnan said the Collector was acting at the behest of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and it was evident from the notice served on Gopi. He said the party would continue to raise the Sabarimala issue during its campaigning. On March 11, a day after the election schedule was announced, Meena had laid down the ground rules for the election campaign in Kerala, saying Sabarimala issue and Lord Ayyappa cannot be used for seeking votes.