Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a cabinet colleague took divergent stands on Monday over the impact of the Sabarimala issue on the outcome of the Lok Sabha election.
Pinarayi said the issue of women's entry into the temple, which had rocked the state last year, would not reflect on the outcome.
A day after most exit polls predicted that the ruling Left Front would get only four-five seats and the Congress-led UDF would get a landslide victory with at least 15 seats, Pinarayi expressed confidence that the LDF would register an impressive win.
"The things that had happened in Sabarimala should have been avoided. Everyone knows who was behind those incidents, which should not have happened in the hill shrine" Pinarayi said.
"We have taken a stand to protect the Ayyappa shrine. The pilgrims will have a better Sabarimala season next time as reconstruction and developmental activities are going on," the chief minister added.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, meanwhile, acknowledged that it was a factor in the polls.
"The Sabarimala issue was a factor because the fanatics could befool people over this issue. I think a major section was befooled by them," Kadakampally told reporters in Kochi.
Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Sangh Parivar, the minister alleged that communal forces could unleash a false propaganda that the Left Democratic Front government erred on the Sabarimala issue. "But people now have started realising the truth," he said.
Protests had erupted in many parts of the state last year after the CPM-led government had decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict of allowing women of menstruating age to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
Traditionally, women in the age group of 10-50 years were not allowed to enter the temple as the deity, Lord Ayyappa, was in the form of perennial celibate.
On January 2, two women of the traditionally-barred age group trekked the hill and offered prayers at the shrine, leading to widespread violence across the state.