Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has turned out to be the most dominant presence in Kerala’s political discourse over the past one week with the Left training its guns first on the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and now on the Sivagiri Mutt at Varkala over Mr. Modi.
The ruling alliance had come in for a sharp attack from the CPI(M) for Labour Minister Shibu Baby John’s meeting with the Gujarat Chief Minister last week. The Sivagiri Mutt, philosopher-savant Sree Narayana Guru’s final resting place and a centre of secular spirituality, has been drawn into the vortex of a related controversy with Mr. Modi being invited to inaugurate the golden jubilee of the Sree Narayana Dharma Meemamsa Parishad. The function featuring Mr. Modi is to take place on Wednesday. The function in which Kerala Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan is to attend is slated for Thursday.
Mr. Achuthanandan fired the first salvo against the Mutt authorities, declaring that he would not participate in the programmes to mark the 125 anniversary of the Guru’s installation of the Siva idol at Aruvippuram near here. He was soon joined by CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan who accused the Mutt authorities of trying to turn the traditional seat of secular spirituality into a Hindu mutt.
The Mutt authorities were quick to reject the charge and said that invitations had been extended not just to Mr. Modi but also to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “It is just that only Mr. Modi accepted our invitation. Sivagiri Mutt has no politics. Our tradition is to welcome all,” said Swami Rithambarananda, general secretary of the Mutt.
Support for the Mutt authorities came from Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam general secretary Vellappalli Natesan, who contended that there was nothing wrong in the Mutt’s decision to invite Mr. Modi to inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations. Expectedly, the State BJP leadership was incensed by the Left’s criticism of the Mutt. Party State president V. Muralidharan even went to the extent of asking what right the CPI(M) leadership had to criticise the Mutt authorities after having shared the stage with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Abdul Nasir Maudany, who is an accused in a Bangalore blasts case.