Kerala govt’s stand on Sabarimala temple row one of most shameful, says PM Narendra Modi
Modi said while the BJP stands with the culture of the land, the Congress says “one thing in Parliament and another in Pathanamthitta (where the Lord Ayyappa shrine is located).”Updated: Jan 15, 2019 23:52 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government on its handling of the Sabarimala controversy, saying the Communists didn’t respect India’s culture and spiritual traditions. He also slammed the Congress for taking multiple stands on the issue.
Hitting out at the LDF led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Opposition spearheaded by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state, Modi said both the fronts were two sides of the same coin. “We know that the Communists do not respect India’s culture, history, and spirituality,” Modi said at a public meeting in Kollam.
Turning to the Congress, he said: “They say one thing in Parliament and another in Pathanamthitta [where the Lord Ayyappa shrine is located].” He added that “they are only different in name but are similar when it comes to corruption, casteism, communalism and in damaging the cultural fabric of Kerala.”
Watch: Kerala hostage to LDF-UDF alliance: PM Modi
The Supreme Court in September last threw open the doors of the Sabarimala shrine to women of all ages, overturning a traditional ban on women of childbearing age from entering the temple.
Female devotees aged between 10 and 50 had for decades been barred from the shrine on grounds that the presiding deity is a celibate, and the court ruling enraged traditionalists in Kerala.
The LDF government of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it was determined to uphold the court verdict. On January 2, two women in their 40s became the first to worship at the shrine on Wednesday, breaking the taboo and triggering unrest in many parts of Kerala. At a public rally — his first in south India with barely three months left for the crucial general election — organised by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Modi said the state government’s conduct on Sabarimala will go down in the history as one of the most shameful.
Both the CPI(M) and Opposition Congress criticised the PM’s utterances on Sabarimala.
The CPI(M) said that by criticising the state government, which had implemented the top court verdict, Modi was inciting more violence by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers whom it has blamed for violent protests. “By supporting violence unleashed by Sangh Parivar outfits, the PM proved beyond any doubt he has no statesmanship,” said senior CPI(M) leader Anathalavattom Anandan.
“The BJP is trying to exploit the emotional issue eying some votes. Initially it hailed the verdict but later retracted sensing an opportunity. The Congress always stood with believers and its government gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court to maintain status quo at the temple,” said state Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
Modi arrived in the state capital on Tuesday evening and inaugurated the 13-km-long Kollam bypass road. He then addressed a political rally at the Cantonment grounds. The bypass, which cost ~352 crore, will cut travel time between Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala and is expected to decongest traffic in Kollam town.
Earlier, the Prime Minister launched a slew of projects worth ~1,550 crore in Odisha and said that the Centre was striving for the development of eastern India. Affirming the Centre’s resolve to expand connectivity in Odisha, he said in addition to education, connectivity would lead to speedy development and overall progress.
“I am happy to unveil projects worth ~1,550 crore in areas like education, connectivity, tourism and culture,” Modi said while inaugurating and laying the foundation stone for a series of projects, mainly in the railway sector, at a function in Balangir.
Describing connectivity as a catalyst for progress, Modi said it would boost trade, commerce, and tourism, besides helping farmers in taking their produce to agricultural markets. Strong connectivity would also propel industrialisation, which in turn would create enormous opportunities for employment generation, he said.
Several industries, such as cement, paper, aluminum, refractory, pig iron, sponge iron and steel pipes, located in and around the area would benefit from the projects, Modi said. The Prime Minister, en route to Odisha, made a stopover in Chhattisgarh, where he was welcomed by newly elected chief minister Bhupesh Baghel of the Congress and state BJP leaders at the Raipur airport.
The Congress termed Modi’s speech as disappointing and said there was little for Odisha. “Thank you, Prof. Modi, for your history lessons, but we Odias are very well aware of our history & culture. We wanted you to speak on agricultural distress, unemployment, and western Odisha. But you disappointed again,” tweeted Niranjan Patnaik, the Congress’s Odisha unit chief.
The state’s ruling Biju Janata Dal said that under the Modi regime, Odisha had gained little. “Earlier the Central share for the post-matriculation scholarship for SC [Scheduled Caste] and ST [Scheduled Tribe] students was 90%. But now the ministry of social justice and empowerment recently slashed Centre’s contribution to 20%. BJP government at the Centre talks big, but gives very little to Odisha,” said senior BJD leader and minister Suryo Patro.
The PM also met the parents of Doordarshan (DD) cameraman Achyutanand Sahu, who was killed by Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district in October last year, and offered condolences on his visit to Balangir. Modi said Sahu was only performing his duty of presenting to the world a democratic picture of the country through Doordarshan. He also said that sacrifices such as his had only strengthened India’s resolve to end the cycle of violence.
First Published: Jan 15, 2019 18:45 IST