THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi played the Sabarimala card, his party is cashing in on it in a big way, hoping to reap rich benefits not only in Kerala but across South India. If the Prime Minister was indirect and subtle while referring to Sabarimala in Kozhikode on Friday, he adopted a no-holds-barred approach on Saturday, invoking Sabarimala across poll campaigns.
Following the Election Commission’s restriction on invoking the Sabarimala issue for political gains, the BJP state leadership had earlier adopted a cautious approach in the matter. “Sabarimala naturally is one of the most important issues being discussed in the polls this time. Since it was included in the party’s manifesto this time, the BJP does intend to take up the same,” said senior BJP leader V Muraleedharan.
The Chief Electoral Officer has only warned against seeking votes in the name of Ayyappan, he said. Meanwhile, the Sabarimala Karma Samithi staged a protest in the state capital, declaring that people would be repeatedly reminded of Sabarimala and the manner in which it was handled by the Pinarayi Vijayan Government in Kerala. On Saturday, addressing an election rally in Mangalore, Modi accused the Congress, the Muslim League and the Left Front of playing a ‘highly dangerous’ game over Sabarimala.
BJP state leadership unleashes attack on CEO
Modi blamed the Communist government for trying to destroy faith and traditions. Referring to his visit to Kozhikode, Modi said the believers in Kerala are going through a terrible crisis. ‘’They can’t even utter the name of Ayyappan. If someone mentions Sabarimala, he will be put in jail,” Modi said while referring to the BJP’s Kozhikode candidate who was in jail in connection with the Sabarimala agitation.
Taking a cue from the Prime Minister, the BJP state leadership unleashed an attack on the Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena who had issued directions not to invoke religious issues for electoral gains. Senior BJP leader and Attingal candidate Sobha Surendran minced no words in attacking the CEO saying he has been acting on behalf of Pinarayi Vijayan and the AKG Centre.
Openly declaring that she would invoke the name of Ayyappan in all election campaigns, Sobha dared the CEO to take action against her. Last week, the EC had served notice on BJP’s Thrissur candidate Suresh Gopi for invoking Ayyappan’s name during his poll campaign. In the meantime, in an obvious move to put him under pressure, the BJP also filed a complaint against the CEO for violating the Model Code of Conduct stating the inclusion of Meena’s photograph in election posters is a violation of the code.