Devotees arrive to pay obeisance at Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala. PTI Photo
Devotees arrive to pay obeisance at Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala. PTI Photo

Thiruvananthapuram: The Election Commissioner on Monday warned political parties in Kerala not to invoke the Sabarimala temple as a campaign issue, eliciting a sharp reaction from the BJP, which termed the directive as absurd.

With the state getting into the poll groove, Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena was categorical that “citing or invoking” religious propaganda on the “Sabarimala issue” would be a clear violation of the model code of conduct.

Using any part of the Supreme Court judgment, invoking or soliciting votes in the name of religion, or inciting religious feelings, is a clear violation of the model code of conduct,” he told reporters at Thiruvanathapuram. Lest there is any doubt, the CEO also said the commission would not allow any kind of violation that gives a particular political party an advantage over the other.

Reacting to the directive, BJP state general secretary K Surendran was equally emphatic that the stand taken by the Kerala government on the Sabarimala issue would be an election issue.”It is a 100 per cent certainty that the stand taken by the (state) government on Sabarimala issue will be discussed in elections. No one can interfere in it..

It is illogical to say that the Sabarimala issue should not be discussed in the election,” Surendran told the media at Kottayam. The BJP has pinned its hope on the Sabarimala issue, which has polarised the electorate and is expected to yield a rich political harvest to the saffron forces, which have been desperately trying to gain a foothold in the Left bastion.

The saffron party’s central leadership has also brought back former BJP state chief Kummanam Rajashekharan, who was appointed as Mizoram governor nine months ago, to lead the party in the state. The BJP and the EC look set for a showdown: the fireworks have just begun.

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