Tharoor, Kummanam accuse each other of ‘communalisation’

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 21, 2019

Kummanam Rajasekharan   -  File photo

Rajasekharan clinched the Thiruvananthapuram seat after he was asked to resign as Governor of Mizoram and deputed to his home State

It may still be early days, but high-profile candidates Shashi Tharoor of the Congress and the BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan in Thiruvananthapuram have already dropped hints as to how intense the campaigning can possibly get.

Though the BJP national leadership is yet to come out with a final list of candidates for Kerala, Rajasekharan clinched the Thiruvananthapuram seat after he was asked to resign as Governor of Mizoram and deputed to his home State.

Likewise, it was a foregone conclusion that sitting MP Tharoor would be fielded in Thiruvananthapuram a third time to defend his seat, even as Congress factions jostled with each other to finalise candidates for the remaining seats in the State.

Charges fly thick and fast

Tharoor on Thursday alleged that the RSS-controlled Sabarimala Karma Samithy (Sabarimala Action Council) and the BJP have been using religious symbols (pictures of Lord Ayyappa) in campaign posters and materials to influence voters.

Rajasekharan shot back by saying it was Tharoor who was resorting to unabashed “communalisation” of the campaign by featuring the title and cover of his book “Why I am a Hindu” in posters.

Tharoor has raised a formal complaint with the State Election Commission close on the heels of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) bringing to its attention the pamphlets of the Karma Samithy depicting Lord Ayyappa. Tharoor said the BJP had set a bad precedent by using the pictures of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in campaign posters. He also referred to a “whispering campaign” — reproduction of excerpts from a book authored by him 30 years ago — to impute that he had shown Nair women in poor light.

Rajasekharan has stated that the BJP has nothing to do with the posters showing the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in the background. He criticised Tharoor for persisting with posters showing his own book with an evocative title.

Meanwhile, social media has gone into an overdrive with trolls, posters and memes showing the rivalry between the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The cyber-war is being fought mainly in the CPI(M) pocket borough of Kannur, with rival fronts launching online mascots. Many “foot soldiers” signed up in support.

Published on March 21, 2019

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