Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala minister KT Jaleel on Monday hit out at senior BJP leader V Muraleedharan for calling the former's visit to Sabarimala's Lord Ayyappa temple as a "photo opportunity", saying the hill shrine was an abode of "secularism" and he had a "great feeling" being there.
"Everyone, irrespective of their caste and religion, can go to Sabarimala. I had a great feeling when I visited the shrine, the same which I felt during my visit to Golden Temple in Amritsar," he said.
Reacting to Mr Muraleedharan's comments about his yesterday's visit, Jaleel, a former IUML activist who later left the party and joined the Left Democratic Front, said, "I experienced the great feeling of religious harmony in both these places."
Terming Sabriamala as an "abode of secularism", Mr Jaleel, the Local Administration Minister, also pointed out that the Vavar Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa's Muslim friend Vavar, is located near the main temple complex.
Flaying Mr Jaleel, who visited Sabarimala along with Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran to review the preparations for the upcoming Mandala-Makaravilakku festival season, the BJP leader had said if the minister visited the shrine as a "picnic spot" for a "photo opportunity", it was 'inappropriate'.
In a Facebook post, the former BJP state chief had also said it was difficult to believe that Mr Jaleel, a former SIMI activist, had become a "secular person in a jiffy".
Dismissing Mr Muraleedharan's charge, the minister said he was not concerned about such criticism as he knew that public knew him well.
"People, world over, need to know about the secular values of this holy temple. Those who fear that secular values of the temple will be known to the world, will only express such concerns," Mr Jaleel added.