Cong. moves CEO against CM on Sabarimala issue

Party’s aim is to thwart LDF bid to ‘target’ NSS

The Congress on Thursday attempted to put Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the dock to face the charge of invoking Lord Ayyappa to seek votes.

Kannur District Congress Committee (DCC) president Satheeshan Pacheni moved Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena against Mr. Vijayan.

In a petition, Mr. Pacheni alleged Mr. Vijayan had called into political use religious motifs, including the theme of Lord Ayyappa, to court voters by appealing to their faith on election day on April 6.

Mr. Pacheni said Mr. Vijayan had claimed that Kerala gods and deities, including Lord Ayyappa, favoured the LDF government. Mr. Vijayan had violated the model code of conduct. He had appealed to voters based on religion. The Chief Minister had infringed on electoral rules.

Mr. Pacheni’s complaint was perceived as an attempt on the part of the Congress to deflect the Left Democratic Front (LDF) bid to ‘target’ the Nair Service Society (NSS). The LDF had accused the NSS of ‘attempting’ to push the polarising debate on women’s right to worship at Sabarimala to the forefront of the political narrative on polling day.

It claimed NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair violated the Hindu social organisation’s traditional line of political neutrality by stating the people desired a regime change at the start of the polling.

The ruling front accused Mr. Nair of portraying the Assembly elections as a contest between believers and non-believers. Mr. Vijayan had merely reacted to Mr. Nair when pressed by journalists for comment.

The LDF government had enacted the Supreme Court verdict upholding women’s right, irrespective of their age, to worship at Sabarimala in 2018. The move had caused widespread violence and social upheaval. Mr. Nair had also said the intensity of the protests over the events in 2018 was yet to abate.

Subsequently, Law Minister A.K. Balan moved the CEO against Mr. Nair on the charge of violating the provision of the Representation of People Act. The government’s move set off a ripple of protests with the Congress and the BJP rallying behind the NSS.

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