Suresh Gopi violated poll code with Sabarimala remark, says top poll officer

Suresh Gopi violated poll code with Sabarimala remark, says top poll officer
T V Anupama, Suresh Gopi and Teeka Ram Meena.
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Thrissur/Thiruvananthapuram: A day after the Thrissur district collector issued a notice to NDA candidate Suresh Gopi for allegedly seeking votes in the name of religion, Chief Election Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena on Sunday said the actor-turned-politician had prima facie violated the code of conduct while campaigning in the Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency.

The CEO said Thrissur district collector Anupama's action against Suresh Gopi was appropriate. Stating that Suresh Gopi should reply to the collector's notice, Meena said it was anti-democratic to seek votes in the name of god.

Anupama sought an explanation from Suresh Gopi, a BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP, after he mentioned Lord Ayyappa and Sabarimala temple during a convention of the NDA in Thrissur. Anupama, who is also the district election officer, assessed that the speech was in violation of the model code of conduct in place as part of the April 23 Lok Sabha polls in Kerala.

The CEO had particularly ordered that the Sabarimala temple issue should not be used for seeking votes. The collector has attached the transcript of the speech with the notice.

Refutes charges

Refuting the collector's charges, Suresh Gopi said in his speech he had made it clear that he would not seek votes in the name of Sabarimala. However, he told the media on Sunday that people would deal with the situation wherein one is not allowed to utter the name of his favourite deity.

BJP hits out at Anupama

Meanwhile, BJP came out accusing Anupama of colluding with the ruling CPM. BJP leader B Gopalakrishnan told media that Anupama was acting like a slave of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He also cited that Anupama had participated in the Women Wall, organised by the government in association with some Leftist organisations as a counter to the Sangh Parivar outfits' protest over the Sabarimala agitation.

Right-wing outfits had staged a series of protests in Kerala after the Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict last year, allowed women of child-bearing age to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. The BJP views the verdict as an attempt to violate the traditions of the temple and Hindu beliefs, while the CPM hailed it as a historic step towards ensuring gender equality.

The BJP hopes to make gains in the Lok Sabha polls by consolidating the Hindu votes with its campaign against the CPM, which, according to the saffron camp, has been trying to undermine the Hindu traditions.

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