Modi cheated devotees on Sabarimala: Congress

Thiruvananthapuram: AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal yesterday flayed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party BJP over the Sabarimala issue. He alleged that the BJP and its members worsened the issue and spoke about the hill shrine only for election and voting and that it had cheated the Ayyappa devotees.

He further claimed that the Centre and BJP were working hand-in-hand over the issue. “Why is the Prime Minister playing a drama over Sabarimala? I had brought up the matter in Parliament on January 4. I had sought legislative intervention to protect the rights of the believers. Has the Prime Minister or his minister ever uttered a single word on the issue in Parliament?,” Venugopal questioned.

While NDA had brought forward an ordinance to validate the lapsed Bill on Triple Talaq, it did not show the same enthusiasm in the case of Sabarimala. “An ordinance would have been enough. The Centre could have intervened in the name of faith. But they didn’t. Modi said his party and government will approach the Supreme Court, explaining the traditions of Sabarimala. They could’ve have done this long ago. But they didn’t. People will tolerate all kinds of drama, but using the name of Swami Ayyappa for election drama is beyond limits,” said the Congress leader.

He went on throwing barbs at the ruling party in the State. He said it could have sought time to implement the verdict by the apex court, but failed to do so.

Venugopal also spoke about AICC’s decision to appoint a special observer in Thiruvananthapuram and stated that it was to monitor the poll activities in the major constituencies. Senior leader Nana Patole has been appointed as observer in Thiruvananthapuram constituency, where the high profile candidate Shashi Tharoor is contesting for the party.

Reacting to media reports that Tharoor had complained to AICC about local level leaders not campaigning for him in the constituency, Venugopal said, “Those were just rumours. Tharoor has never given any complaint. The whole country knows the Parliamentary intervention of Tharoor. Who else is there to compete with the stature of Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram?”

The observers were appointed as the BJP was using all its machinery to fight this poll. Referring to a purported video clipping of two SPG men carrying two big boxes into a car which was not part of the Prime Minister’s convoy at Chitradurga in Karnataka, which had gone viral, Venugopal said the party had complained to the Election Commission. “So the BJP thinks they can capture the seat from us. We decided to fight back and appointed observers,” he said.

Speaking about the alleged fake degree of union Minister Smriti Irani, who is contesting against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, and said she had given four different statements in four elections. “In 2004, she says she passed BA. In 2009, it became B.Com from Delhi university. Another one in 2014. Now, in 2019 she says she has not passed B.Com. What credibility does she as a candidate have?,” Venugopal asked.

NT Bureau