National

Sabarimala to be a major election issue, says Amit Shah

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 24, 2021

Home Minister Amit Shah has said that Sabarimala would be a major election issue in Kerala and the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) will be answerable to the faithful for its various criminal acts at the holy shrine that has hurt the sentiments of crores of Lord Ayyappa faithful no end.

Shah said this while answering queries from presspersons accompanying him on a road show at Thripunithura in Ernakulam in Kerala on Wednesday morning. The Home Minister had arrived in Kochi late on Tuesday evening that will take him on a whirlwind tour of the southern state.

Whirlwind tour of Kerala

Observers had expected the Home Minister to revive the Sabarimala narrative issue during the elections even as his itinerary would take him to Kanjirappalli in Kottayam district where former Union Minister Alphonse Kannanthanam is the NDA candidate from a constituency with a major Christian community presence.

Responding to another question, Shah said that the gold/dollar smuggling case will continue to be under probe irrespective of the Assembly elections and asserted that it behoves the country’s own investigative agencies, and not the UN or any such international agency, to conduct a probe into a crime registered in India.

CM owes an explanation

The Enforcement Directorate sleuths had entered the portals of the Office of the Chief Minister while probing the case. “The Chief Minister owes an explanation to the people as to whether his office and his Principal Secretary were involved in the case. If they are not, why was the Principal Secretary asked to quit,” he said.

When asked how many seats he expects the BJP-NDA to win in the state, the Home Minister refused to put a number to it saying that the saffron front will make its mark in the elections. When told that pre-poll surveys repeatedly talk about the incumbent LDF win, he said it is only the media’s version.

Cut from Shah’s itinerary

Apart from Thripunithara and Kanjirappalli, Shah is scheduled to attend meetings at Puttingal in Kollam, and Malampuzha in Palakkad. Thalassery in Kannur has been cut off from the itinerary with the party had suffering a setback after nomination papers filed there was rejected for technical reasons.

The constituency had witnessed a resurgent BJP in 2016, with the party increasing its vote share by 10.5 per cent. The party is facing a similar predicament in the Guruvayur constituency in Thrissur with State Mahila Morcha President Nivedita Subramaniam failing to make it into the final list.

Devikulam in Idukki is the third such seat where the party has failed to find a replacement candidate. This has reignited the controversy about charges and countercharges of vote trading being flung against each other by the ruling LDF and the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) with the BJP in the centre.

(With inputs from Kochi bureau)

Published on March 24, 2021

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