THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sabarimala became a hot topic on Tuesday, the day Kerala went to the polls, notwithstanding attempts by LDF to keep the issue on the back burner.
The first salvo came hardly one hour into polling when NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair said the people of the state want a regime change and urged them to vote for those who protect faith.
Reacting to Nair’s statements, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the gods are with the LDF government. “Ayyappa and other gods … are with this government because it has protected all the people. The gods have always remained with those who do good for the people,” he said after voting at the R C Amala Basic UP School in Pinarayi.
CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan concurred with the CM, saying that if gods had votes, they would have voted in LDF’s favour.
“The LDF government had ensured protection to all believers belonging to the Muslim, Christian and Hindu religions. The LDF government had carried out unprecedented development work in Sabarimala during the last five years. So, believers are coming to the polling booths in droves to vote for LDF,” he said.
The CM’s comments sparked a series of reactions from leaders from across the political spectrum. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala lashed out at Vijayan, saying the wrath of god would fall upon the LDF government for trampling on the faith of Ayyappa devotees.
Responding sharply to the CM’s statement, BJP president K Surendran said Vijayan made a U-turn on Sabarimala on polling day as he was frightened about losing the election.
“It was Pinarayi Vijayan and his fellow demons who destroyed Sabarimala and they provided government facilities to clear the way for the entry of young women to the hill shrine,” he said.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran accused Nair of playing politics and said no other community leaders had chosen polling day to make such a statement.
Slamming Vijayan’s “U-turn”, senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy said “not even one among the faithful will believe what he said”.
Senior Congress politician A K Antony accused the CM of hypocrisy: “If he had thought about this then Sabarimala wouldn’t have witnessed any problems.” He also asked Pinarayi to pray to Lord Ayyappa to pardon him and the LDF government for “polluting” Sannidhanam.
“Too little, too late” was how MP Shashi Tharoor reacted to Vijayan’s statements. “If he had thought about Lord Ayyappa when he had unnecessarily sent people (cops) wearing helmets and black jackets, those incidents would not have happened,” Tharoor said, adding that Vijayan’s “newfound” faith in Lord Ayyappa was a ploy to fool people.
Congress politician and MP K Sudhakaran said the gods had never favoured “asuras”. “Nowhere in history (sic) we can see them coming together,” he said.
Minister A K Balan filed a complaint with the Election Commission alleging that Nair and Chennithala were misusing the election in the name of faith and religion and that they were attempting to portray the elections as a battle between believers and non-believers. “The messages were given by Nair as well as UDF leaders in the first hour of polling. This is a violation of the Representation of People Act and the Constitution,” he said.