A day after Narendra Modi accused the Kerala government of “punishing” people for invoking the name of Lord Ayyappa, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Sunday claimed the PM was “misleading” the nation on the Sabarimala issue.
Dubbing PM Modi’s remark an “utter lie”, Vijayan wondered how could a prime minister make such “wrong” statements. “This is an utter lie. How can a Prime Minister make such a wrong remark?” Vijayan said while addressing a rally in Kollam.
Vijayan clarified that those who were arrested during the Sabarimala agitation had gone against the law. “In other states, Sangh Parivar activists may not land in jail or there may not be any cases against them, thanks to the blessings of Modi. But that will not happen in Kerala,” Vijayan warned.
Accusing Modi of practising “double standards”, the Kerala CM said it was the Centre that had asked the state government to implement Section 144 in Sabarimala during the protests last year over the entry of women of all age groups into the hill shrine.
“Why did they send people to the hill shrine to attack devotees? The attackers even reached the Sannidhanam… the policemen were hit with coconuts. Police had great difficulty in controlling the attackers,” Vijayan said while pointing out that the model code of conduct was applicable to the PM too.
The state’s Chief Electoral Officer Teekaram Meena had earlier made it clear that political parties cannot invoke the name of Lord Ayyappa or Sabarimala to seek votes.
PM Modi, while addressing public rallies in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on Saturday, said the Communists, Congress and Muslim League were playing “a dangerous game” on the Sabarimala issue.
Referring to the arrest of a BJP candidate, Prakash Babu, in connection with clashes over the Sabarimala issue, Modi accused the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala of creating an atmosphere where people cannot practise their religion and faith.
“People are being put behind the bars if they even take the name of Lord Ayyappa publicly. Is such behaviour acceptable in a democracy?” he asked.
Addressing a Vijay Sankalp rally in Kozhikode on Thursday, Modi, while not mentioning Sabarimala or Lord Ayyappa directly, had said the BJP government would make sure that centuries-old beliefs were protected.
“They are using brute force to strike at the roots of faith and expression. Sadly for them, as long as the BJP is there, nobody will be able to destroy our faith and culture,” he had said.
(With inputs from PTI)