Thrissur Pooram, one of the largest temple festivals in India known for its rich colour, culture and tradition and attended by lakhs every year, was marred on last Friday due to excessive police restrictions, forcing political parties to take it up as an issue ahead of Lok Sabha polls in the constituency.

The Congress party accused the ruling CPI(M) and the BJP of reaching a secret nexus to facilitate the victory of NDA candidate Suresh Gopi by creating an impression that his intervention had helped resolve the crisis. Congress candidate K Muraleedharan alleged that both the State and Central Governments acted in unison with an eye to derive electoral gains out of the situation by destroying festival charm.

The CPI(M), he said, used the police machinery to implement their agenda in Thrissur for political advantage. This is evident from the social media campaign by the BJP cyber cell highlighting the intervention of Suresh Gopi in enabling a smooth conduct of the Pooram festival, Muraleedharan said.

The government has ordered the transfer of the City Police Commissioner, which is only temporary. He will be brought back to the same post once elections are over, Muraleedharan said and demanded a judicial enquiry into the entire incident to expose those involved in the regrettable Pooram episode.

He went on to add that Suresh Gopi was nowhere in the picture when the issue cropped up between the police and the public. He had come to the scene only much later and had performed as if in a movie.

B Gopalakrishnan, State Vice-President of BJP, retorted back saying it was Suresh Gopi’s timely intervention that helped to control the mob from turning violent, thereby aiding the police to control law and order. He accused the state government of spoiling the charm of the Pooram festival by imposing unnecessary police restrictions. There was no Minister, MP or MLA as a member in the organising committee to stop police high-handedness. He also demanded compensation for those who were injured in the clash.

Kerala Opposition Leader VD Satheesan also accused the parties concerned in hatching a conspiracy to damage the spirit of the Pooram.

However, Suresh Gopi doubted a Sabarimala like political campaign was sought to be unleashed by the CPI(M) to gain political advantage ahead of the elections by instigating troubles ahead and then resolving them.

VS Sunil Kumar, the CPI candidate said unnecessary interference of the police had created ruckus because they acted without imbibing the spirit of Pooram.

The row over Thrissur Pooram forced Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to intervene by immediately ordering the transfer of City Police Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Police with the permission of the Election Commission. The Chief Minister also ordered a thorough investigation into the complaints raised by temple managements and the public into the conduct of police behaviour during the festival.