Chief Election Officer of Kerala Teeka Ram Meena, however, said Suresh Gopi’s act of invoking Ayyappa’s name for votes is a violation of the guidelines.

Collector Anupama IAS wants fame BJP rant after Suresh Gopi gets poll violation notice
news 2019 Lok Sabha Sunday, April 07, 2019 - 14:40

On March 11, Chief Election Officer of Kerala Teeka Ram Meena had clearly stated that the issue of Sabarimala cannot be used to evoke the sentiments of the public and thus to appeal for votes. However, BJP’s Thrissur Lok Sabha candidate and actor Suresh Gopi seemed to have violated this clear directive, and at a campaign meeting on Friday said, “In the wake of Sabarimala, I ask for votes”.

To this, the Thrissur District Collector and Returning Officer TV Anupama on Saturday served the BJP candidate with a notice, asking him to respond within 48 hours. Now, what the Collector did as her duty has turned political, with BJP taking potshots at her.   

“The Collector’s notice to Suresh Gopi was stupid and absurd. She is either CPI (M) government’s servant or did this out of ignorance or for fame,” State BJP spokesperson B Gopalakrishnan to the media. “First, let the collector learn what the Model Code of Conduct is,” he added.

Suresh Gopi, meanwhile, continued to maintain that he did not violate the Model Code of Conduct. He even left the task of responding to the Election Commission's notice to the BJP party.

“I firmly believe that I have not violated any guidelines, but let the party examine that,” the actor and sitting Rajya Sabha MP told the media.

In a dramatic manner, the actor, with his aviator glasses on, further added, “How unfortunate that a bhaktan (devotee) like me cannot use the word (Sabarimala) in public now. What kind of democracy is this!”

At the campaign meeting on Friday, Suresh Gopi had said, "If my Ayyan... our Ayyan... if that Ayyan is my emotion, the brutal government will get a befitting reply this election. The Ayyappa devotees across India will turn it into a wave." He also added that he will not make Sabarimala a poll issue.

‘Clear violation of MCC’: CEO

Calling Suresh Gopi’s act of invoking Ayyappa’s name for votes a violation of the guidelines under the MCC, Teeka Ram Meena came out in support of the Thrissur Collector.

"The Collector is well aware of what the MCC guidelines are. Political parties need not teach her that. The Returning Officer issued the notice after she was convinced it was a violation of the MCC. Let Suresh Gopi respond to the notice and the RO will give the appropriate answer,” he told Asianet. 

The CEO also said that a candidate can discuss subjects related to Sabarimala, but cannot invoke Ayyappa's name and elicit people's emotions and, in turn, make the situation hostile.

Earlier, in an interview to TNM, Teeka Ram had said that Sabarimala should not be given a religious dimension, or used to invoke sentiments of a particular religious community or a particular religious group or against another group or political party.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.