Actor and BJP candidate Suresh Gopi was served with a notice by the Thrissur district collector TV Anupama for violating the model code of conduct by seeking votes in the name of god. The actor, in his response, denied the claim and sought more time to submit a detailed explanation.
Despite guidelines by the Election Commission (EC), Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi, who was speaking at a BJP election convention at the Thrissur Thekkinkadu ground on Saturday said “If Ayyan (Ayyappa) is an emotion, its waves will reach the entire country and not just the state.” He also said that he was seeking votes in the context of Sabarimala, reported Mathrubhoomi.
Following this, the Thrissur district collector issued a notice to the actor seeking an explanation within 48 hours. Suresh Gopi, in his reply, said that he had not violated the model code of conduct by making statements capable of inciting religious tension.
He said that Sabarimala was also the name of a place. Neither did he use the term Sabarimala temple nor did he say Lord Ayyappa. He also added that the names of god or religious symbols were not used in the campaign. The BJP leadership came to the actor’s defence saying that ‘Ayyan’ also meant brother.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena, approved the district collector’s actions saying she was well within her rights to issue a notice to the candidate. “The district collector has the right to take action for any violation of model code of conduct. She gave a notice since prima facie there appears to be a violation,” Meena was quoted by ToI on Sunday.
The CEO rubbished the party’s claim saying “They can have their own interpretations. But no one is allowed to use the name of God during election campaigns. Everyone has the liberty to use the Sabarimala issue or the woman entry issue, but not the name of God.”
The BJP state president Sreedharan Pillai criticized CEO’s stand. “If Gopi has any complaint against the district collector, he is allowed to approach the appellate authority. But the appellate authority itself has already made it clear that it was a violation of model code of conduct. This cannot be accepted.”
The actor has sought more time from the collector to submit a detailed explanation after consulting with lawyers.
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