Sharpening its attack on the Prime Minister, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala Sunday accused Narendra Modi of "misleading" the country on the Sabarimla issue and dubbed his statement as "utter lie."
Leading the onslaught, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed PM Modi during his campaign meetings in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka Saturday had said invoking the name of Lord Ayyappa or Sabarimala in Kerala would land devotees in jail and described it as "utter lie" and "misleading."
"This is an utter lie. How can a Prime Minister make such a wrong remark?" Mr Vijayan asked while addressing an election rally in Kollam.
"If anyone was arrested, it was because they have gone against the law. In other states, Sangh Parivar activists may not land in jailor there may not be any cases against them, thanks to the blessings of PM Modi. But that will not happen in Kerala," the chief minister warned.
Accusing PM Modi of practising "double standards", he said it was the Centre which had asked the state government to impose Section 144 in Sabarimala during the frenzied protests last year over the entry of women of all age groups into the hill shrine.
It had also offered to send central forces to put down the protests, he added.
The state had witnessed violent ''namajapam'' protests by a section of devotees, Right wing outfits and the BJP after the LDF government decided to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer worship at the Lord Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala.
PM Modi, who was in Kozhikode on April 12, while not mentioning Sabarimala or Lord Ayyappa directly, had said the BJP government would ensure that the centuries old beliefs of devotees would be protected.
The Prime Minister was more direct in his campaign meetings in Tamil Nadu, where he alleged the Communists, Congress and Muslim League were playing a dangerous game on the Sabarimala issue.
"They are using brute force to strike at the roots of faith and expression. Sadly for them, as long as the BJP is there, nobody will be able to destroy our faith and culture," he had said.
The Prime Minister had also mentioned that the BJP candidate in Kozhikode, Prakash Babu, was arrested and jailed on the Sabarimala issue.
Hitting back, Mr Vijayan said: "Whoever does any wrong, action will be taken", adding those arrested on the Sabarimala issue had gone against law.
The model code of conduct was applicable to the Prime Minister also, Mr Vijayan said campaigning for the LDF candidate K N Balagopal in Kollam.
The state's Chief Electoral Officer, Teekaram Meena, had earlier made it clear political parties cannot invoke the name of Lord Ayyappa or Sabarimala to seek votes.
Mr Vijayan said the BJP had given a call to its followers saying no one should put any offerings in hundis. "Why did they send people to the hill shrine to attack devotees? The attackers even reached the Sannidhanam... the policemen were hit with coconuts. Police had great difficulty in controlling the attackers," he alleged.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also lashed out at the BJP, saying the saffron party was allegedly dividing people on communal lines. The prime minister himself was defying the Election Commission, he alleged.