Updated: April 3, 2021 7:37:56 am
WITH THE BJP keen to keep the spotlight on the Sabarimala issue in the final run-up to the Kerala polls on April 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lent his weight to the push by starting his rally Friday in Pathanamthitta with a call for the large gathering to repeat after him an iconic chant from the hill shrine: “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa (I seek refuge in you, lord Ayyappa)”.
Not once, but five times.
Modi’s unusual call was also significant because it was issued in Konni, which is close to the hill shrine and is one of the two seats — apart from Manjeswaram in Kasaragod — from where the party’s state chief K Surendran is contesting.
Surendran was jailed in 2018 for his involvement in the heated protests against the Supreme Court ruling that overturned a traditional ban and allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple. The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF backed the court ruling and paid a heavy political price in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, winning just one of 20 seats.
“Being here in this holy land blessed by Swami Ayyappa is special,” said Modi.
“Millions of devotees come here after observing a strict 41-day vratham (vow). That discipline and devotion makes this land even holier. From Swami Ayyappa, we learn the importance of doing good to others and being compassionate,” he said.
Modi then went on to accuse the LDF of trying to “destabilise” sacred sites and using lathis on Ayyappa devotees instead of welcoming them “with flowers” during the 2018 agitation.
“First, they (LDF) tried to distort the picture and image of Kerala by showing Kerala culture as backward. They tried to destabilise sacred places by using their agents to carry out mischief. Devotees of Ayyappa, who should have been welcomed with flowers, were welcomed by lathis. The innocent devotees of Ayyappa are not criminals. For decades, the Left cabal has done everything to portray Indian culture in poor light. Their lies will not go on any more,” he said.
Modi also took a leaf out of the Bible to list what he said were the “seven sins” of the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF.
“The first sin is false pride and arrogance. LDF and UDF feel they can never be defeated. This has made their leaders very arrogant. They are disconnected from the roots. The second sin is greed for money. Solar scam, dollar scam, gold scam, land scam, bar bribery scam, the list is endless. Both alliances have looted from every sector. The third sin is apathy towards people. I fail to understand which government will shower lathis on innocent devotees?” he said in the speech that, incidentally, was delivered on Good Friday.
The others, he said, were envy and jealousy, lust for power, promoting dynastic politics and laziness in governance. “It’s time to free Kerala from (the two) alliances,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also listed some of the key projects that the Centre has sanctioned for Kerala in the recent Budget including Rs 65,000 crore for roads and highways as part of the Mumbai-Kanyakumari economic corridor, the second-phase of the Kochi Metro and a plan for a fishing harbour in Kochi.
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