BJP candidate in Thrissur and actor Suresh Gopi, MP, appears to have landed in a soup over his invoking the name of Lord Ayyappa and Sabarimala during his election campaign. Close on the heels of DIstrict Collector TV Anupama slapping a notice on the actor-turned politician, Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena has justified Anupama's action. He had at an all-party meeting earlier said that invoking the name of Lord Ayyappa or using the Sabarimala issue over the Supreme Court verdict allowing young women entry to the shrine was against the moral code of conduct. He had made it clear that one could not use religion, caste or god to seek votes.
While Suresh Gopi has been given two days to give his reply and has been justifying his remarks, BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai has said invoking Ayyappa’s name to seek votes is a serious offence. However, he added in Thiruvananthapuram today, "I don't think Suresh Gopi used Lord Ayyappa's name to seek votes by violating Chief Electoral Officers directive.” And raising the Sabarimala issue during a speech could not be considered an offence, he added.
Suresh Gopi had during an election meeting said: “ "If Ayyappa is an emotion, its waves will reach the entire country and not just the State.” He added that the NDA would seek votes in the name of the Sabarimala issue. In reaction to the notice, Suresh Gopi said it was a devotee's helplessness if he could not utter the name of his ‘favourite god’ and a reply to the election commission would be given soon.
He claimed he never asked votes in the name of beliefs or faith. It was helplessness if a devotee could not utter the name of a god. He added that he had made clear during the speech that he would not use the the Sabarimala issue. BJP leader B Gopalakrishnan was highly critical of the Collector and said she was “serving Pinarayi Vijayan as a slave” and had even taken part in the Women Wall organised by the LDF.