A DAY after Kerala Local Administration Minister K T Jaleel became the first Muslim minister from the state to visit Sabarimala temple, senior state BJP leader V Muraleedharan on Monday criticised the visit and said the Hindu shrine should not be used to make “selfish political gains”.
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“Jaleel is a former SIMI leader (and) it is difficult to believe that one fine morning he has become secular,” Muraleedharan said. “To my knowledge, Jaleel had no role in Sabarimala.”
The BJP leader also said it is “not right” if the minister had seen the visit as a “picnic for photo opportunity”. He said, “Jaleel can go to the shrine as a devotee of Lord Ayyappa, but Sabarimala should not be used for making selfish political gains.”
Jaleel, who is also the state Minorities Welfare and Wakf and Haj Pilgrimage minister, visited the shrine along with Temple Affairs Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Sunday as part of the review of preparations for the upcoming festival season. The visit of the minister, who is a CPI(M)-backed Independent legislator from Malappuram, was appreciated, especially on social media.
He later posted on Facebook, “It was 1.15 am (Sunday) when I reached Sannidhanam after climbing the hill. Early morning, I went around the sanctum. Then I reached the shrine of Vavar, a Muslim who had been Ayyappa’s friend. Their relation still remains strong centuries after their death. Let us revive those good old days.’’
Dismissing Muraleedharan’s comments, Jaleel later said, “I experienced a great feeling of religious harmony.”