Amit Shah Begins BJP’s Kerala Poll Campaign, Poses Questions to CM
Shah was in Thiruvananthapuram for the conclusion of BJP state president Surendran’s poll rally, ‘Vijaya Yatra’.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign for the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections on Sunday, 7 March, evening by inaugurating the conclusion of 'Vijaya Yatra' (victory rally), the poll rally of party state president K Surendran, at Sanghumukham in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Home Minister began his campaign by attacking both the ruling CPI(M)-Left Democratic Front (LDF) government and the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Kerala will go to polls on April 6.
Shah dared Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to answer his seven questions on the sensational gold smuggling case, which came to light in July 2020 when about 30 kilograms of gold was seized from diplomatic baggage in Thiruvananthapuram airport. Former Principal Secretary of the CM, M Sivasankar, and a former contract-based government staff Swapna Suresh are among the accused in the case. Earlier, the CM had stated that the central investigating agencies, which are probing the case, have political intentions.
"I saw CM Pinarayi’s statement that the central agencies are being used for political aims. But I want him to answer a few questions. Was an accused in the gold scam working in your office? Was the government paid Rs 3 lakh salary per month to a female accused (Swapna Suresh)? Was the accused woman given a prominent position in the government based on a fake degree? Did you and your Secretary take the woman along on your foreign trips? Was the woman a frequent visitor to the CM's official residence? Did the CM's office exert pressure on the officials when the gold was seized? Has the attack on ED (Enforcement Directorate) and customs officials been probed in detail?” Shah posed his series of questions to the Kerala CM.
Shah said, “There should be transparency in public life, that questions should be answered and there is no point in raising baseless allegations.”
Shah said that he has been extremely happy being in Thiruvanthapuram and meeting the party workers. "It's a land of social revolution and social renaissance. But at present, it's a land of corruption and political murders,” he said.
He said that Kerala was an example for the world in tourism. Now, the LDF and UDF's alternative rules have destroyed all these, he remarked. "There is competition between the UDF and the LDF, but in the matters of corruption. If it was the solar scam (during the previous Oommen Chandy government) when the UDF ruled, it's the gold smuggling when the LDF rules. Both UDF and the LDF are not worried about the land, but about their vote bank," he said.
If BJP comes to power, Kerala will be the number state in the country, he added.
He also questioned Congress and the Communist Party, asking them to reveal their policy.
“What is the aim of the Communist Party and the Congress. They are allies of communal parties like SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India). In Kerala, CPI(M) is against Congress while they are together in Bengal. What is your policy? Ordinary people are not able to understand that,” he said.
He also accused the Congress party of being silent when the Communist government attacked Lord Ayyappa devotees, referring to the statewide agitations after the 2018 Sabarimala verdict, which allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple. "The BJP has the strong view that Sabarimala (temple) should run in the interests of the devotees, not that of the government," he said.
Amit Shah also alleged that Kerala failed in preventing COVID-19 infections. "The COVID-19 cases in Kerala are increasing per day, despite a mass vaccination drive by the Union government. Forty percent of the COVID-19 cases in India are from Kerala," he said. It must be noted that it takes about two weeks or more after taking the shot for the vaccine to be effective.
Amit Shah asked CM Pinarayi Vijayan if he would be able to present the details of the development the Kerala government has carried out. He posed the same question to Congress, to present the development carried out by the previous Oommen Chandy government.
Speaking about the Vijaya Yatra, he said, “The rally has had 62 mass meetings and received massive reception. Now the poll campaign in Kerala has started with a pledge for Atmanirbhar Kerala (self-reliant Kerala). It was during the rally that ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan and High Court former judge Raveendran joined the BJP," Amit Shah said.
He even waxed lyrical about 88-year-old Sreedharan, who was present on stage. "I want to tell you something about E Sreedharan. We call him Metroman as he conceptualised the first metro in the country and presented it in front of the world. He also led the construction of Konkan Railways, through which south India got connected with the rest of India. We want to salute him for his enthusiasm even at this age," he said.
Prominent BJP leaders such as Union Minister for state V Muraleedharan, former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan, MT Ramesh, Sobha Surendran, among others, were in attendance.
(This story was first published on The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)
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