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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

PM Modi to address rally in Kerala

During the public rally PM Narendra Modi is likely to talk about the Congress president’s choice of the second seat and the controversy over the Sabarimala temple.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2019 11:50 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Thiruvananthapuram
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally during the first phase of the Indian general elections in Bihar’s Bhagalpur region
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally during the first phase of the Indian general elections in Bihar’s Bhagalpur region(AFP )
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a rally in Kerala’s Kozhikode on Friday amid a controversy over BJP president Amit Shah’s comparison of Wayanad, the second seat where Congress president Rahul Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha election, with Pakistan.

All the 20 parliamentary constituencies in Kerala will go to polls in the third round of seven-phased Lok Sabha election on April 23. The votes will be counted on May 23.

The Prime Minister will be addressing workers of three north Kerala districts, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram at 6.00 pm during the rally named ‘Vijay Sankalp’. He is likely to talk about the Congress president’s choice of the second seat and the controversy over the Sabarimala temple.

Also read | Rahul Gandhi files nomination papers from Kerala’s Wayanad seat

The BJP chief had stirred a controversy with his comment in Nagpurtwo days ago that one can’t make out “whether Wayanad is in India or Pakistan”, prompting the LDF to seek action against him for allegedly creating communal divisions.

He was referring to the green flags of the Indian Union Muslims League (IUML), a Congress ally in Kerala’s United Democratic Front, that greeted Gandhi on his road show in Wayanad last week. Some social media users had mistaken the flags to be Pakistan’s national flag.

The IUML is the second largest partner in the United Democratic Front (UDF), behind only the Congress, and wields influence in most of north Kerala constituencies including Wayanad. At least three assembly constituencies of Wayanad fall in Muslim-majority Malappuram district.

LDF’s Wayanad constituency convener CK Sasindran submitted a complaint to the state chief electoral officer and chief election commissioner on Thursday, seeking action against Shah.

“He insulted the people of Kerala and Wayanad. Wayanad has a glorious past. Its erstwhile king Pazhassi Raja was the first to take on the British in south India and got martyred. It is better for Shah to browse through the history of the district before mouthing strange things,” Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, slamming Shah’s speech.

The Congress also criticised Shah’s remarks.

“Even a King Cobra doesn’t have as much venom as Shah. He is diverting real issues by raising venomous propaganda,” All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal said.

The Muslim League too attacked the BJP president, saying it doesn’t need a certificate from a person like Amit Shah.

Modi may also talk about the Sabarimala temple issue. After the September 28, 2018, Supreme Court verdict, which allowed women of all ages to worship at Sabarimala hill temple, the state had witnessed widespread violence and sniffing an opportunity the BJP had hijacked the issue. Though the state electoral officer had warned not to use the religious issue for votes, it remained the most talked about topic in the state.

During his last visit to the southern state in February, Prime Minister Modi had attacked the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, saying “its handling of the Sabarimala issue was a most shameful.”

Thanks to the raging controversy at the hill temple at least six constituencies in the state are facing a stiff three-cornered contest for the first time. The emotional issue has stirred the political scene of the state but it remains to be seen how the desperate BJP, an also-ran in the state, will benefit from the churning.

Amit Shah is planning to camp two days in the state, including Wayanad. “His dates will be announced by this weekend,” said Krishnadas.

Rahul Gandhi will also visit Wayanad on April 16 and his sister and Congress general secretary on April 18.

First Published: Apr 12, 2019 11:49 IST

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