Former Governor of Mizoram, Kummanam Rajasekharan, who is likely to be the BJP candidate from Thiruvananthapuram, has hit out at the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Kerala for asking political parties not to use the Sabarimala issue for invoking religious feelings during election campaigns. "Sabarimala is an important issue and the BJP will continue its propaganda and campaigns. It's a crucial matter," Mr Rajsekharan told reporters today in the state capital.
On Monday, hours after Teeka Ram Meena, the CEO said that "citing or invoking" religious propaganda on the Sabarimala issue would be a "clear violation of the model code of conduct," the state BJP criticized Mr Meena, calling his stand "illogical".
"It is 100 per cent that the stand taken by the (state) government on Sabarimala will be discussed in the elections. No one can interfere in it. It is illogical to say that the Sabarimala should not be discussed in the election," (sic) BJP state general secretary, K Surendran told news agency PTI.
Shashi Tharoor, the sitting Congress Lok Sabha lawmaker, representing Thiruvananthapuram, welcomed the CEO's decision. "I think it's absolutely the right interpretation. We have always argued that Sabarimala is either a constitutional issue or religious issue but not a political issue. The only party that is blatantly politicizing Sabarimala is the BJP. They have gone to the streets, created disturbance, obstruct ted worshipers, threw stones and assaulted the police," Mr Tharoor said yesterday.
Accusing the BJP of converting a "sacred shrine into a political theatre," Mr Tharoor said, "As far as we are concerned, we said whatever our views maybe, we must pursue it constitutionally."
Kerala witnessed widespread protests and violence by devotees and right-wing activists after the state government decided to implement the Supreme Court's September 28 verdict, allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple. The BJP has already pinned its hopes on the Sabarimala issue and believes that it will be able to create a momentum among the voters, say sources.
The party's central leadership brought back former BJP state chief, Mr Rajashekharan, to lead the party in the state just nine months after he was made the Meghalaya governor. The Lok Sabha elections begin on April 11 and ends on May 19. Kerala goes to polls on April 23.