The State secretariat of the Communist Party of India (Marist) [CPI(M)] convened here on Tuesday even as the Congress sought to politically resurrect the Sabarimala sentiment to put the ruling coalition on the defence.
In Kannur, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala dared the State government to file a fresh affidavit seeking to reinstate the custom of allowing only women below the age of 10 and above the age of 50 to worship at the Ayyappa temple.
The Congress had also viewed the move on the part of the CPI (M) to question the Indian Union Muslim League’s (IUML) secular credentials as a tactical gambit to attract Hindu and Christian votes, especially in Central and South Kerala.
Mr. Chennithala sought to counter the line by summoning up the Sabarimala question and trying to portray the CPI(M) as patently anti-Muslim.
Electricity Minister M.M. Mani said that the Congress’s claim that it would “stand with devotees” was a bluff. The Supreme Court was considering the issue. No entity was competent to formulate a policy now. He appeared to reflect the party’s thinking.
Mr. Mani said neither the IUML nor the Congress could assume the mantle of protector of Muslims. The Congress had opposed the decision of the EMS government to create Malappuram district. Communists had thrown a fence of defence around Muslims during the Thalassery and Maradu communal riots when IUML leaders had made themselves scarce.
Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) State president K. Surendran questioned the Congress claim of championing Ayyappa devotees’ cause.
“The BJP bore the brunt. Nearly 50,000 party workers are fighting police cases. The Congress sat on the fence watching,” he said.
The CPI(M) secretariat had met amidst speculations about candidate selection. There was no clear indication that the CPI(M) had weighed the matter.
CPI(M) acting State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan had said earlier that the party did not field the same person for more than two terms. However, it was not a hard and fast rule. The party would make allowance to accommodate experienced Ministers and lawmakers.
The secretariat had reportedly reviewed the arrangements for the LDF campaign rallies. The State committee would meet on Wednesday.