- Amit Shah criticised Kerala government over Sabarimala issue
- Pinarayi Vijayan said BJP won't be able to pull down Kerala government
- "You people have no space here," Mr Vijayan said
In the middle of a political row swirling around Kerala's Sabarimala temple, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday mocked BJP President Amit Shah, saying his "strength" won't be enough to pull down his Left-led government.
On Saturday, Amit Shah had warned the Chief Minister against "playing with the Sabarimala issue" and said the BJP would throw out the Kerala government if it tried to tinker with issues of faith.
In his retort at a public meeting on Sunday night, Mr Vijayan went hammer and tongs at Mr Shah and the BJP's ideological mentor RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).
"The Godfather of the BJP was heard saying that they will pull down the Kerala government. His physique, which is made up of only water, won't be enough to do that. It is best if he does all this in Gujarat," thundered Mr Vijayan to wild cheering and clapping.
Mr Vijayan added that despite trying every trick, Amit Shah had not been able to get a foothold in Kerala.
"You came with huge expectations and conducted a yatra here but in the end you had to run away. You people have no space here," Mr Vijayan sneered, targeting the BJP chief.
Earlier, state BJP President PS Sreedharan Pillai had clarified that Mr Shah had never said the Centre would pull down the Kerala government and that he said people would revolt against the Left.
"That was what our president said but the media has twisted his statements," said Mr Pillai.
The BJP has taken on Kerala's Left government over the arrest of hundreds - who the party claims are mostly its workers or those of the RSS - for their protests at the Sabarimala temple against a Supreme Court order ending a ban on women of menstruating age or below 50. "We stand like a rock with the devotees," said Mr Shah, a comment that the Left says is a court violation.
When the hilltop shrine opened for five days recently, protesters refused to let women in, defying the court order. Many devotees insist that ending the restriction on women is an insult to the deity Lord Ayyappa, who is believed to be celibate.