Lok Sabha Election 2019

Left, Right, Congress

The contest in the temple town of Pathanamthitta

“You are here not because of me, and I know that. This land is the sacred place of Lord Ayyappa,” K. Surendran, the BJP’s candidate in Pathanamthitta in south Kerala, says to a gathering in Aranmula, a village famous for its temple; the Aranmula mirror, which is crafted out of a metal alloy; and an annual boat race in river Pampa.

Surendran is the face of the Sangh Parivar agitation against women entering the forest shrine of Sabarimala, located in the constituency. This is the second seat besides Thiruvananthapuram that the BJP is focussing on. Veena George, a TV anchor-turned-MLA from Aranmula, who managed to woo a significant segment of Christians to the Left in the Assembly election, is the Chief Minister’s chosen candidate for the Lok Sabha. The Congress’s Anto Antony is seeking a third term.

 

Wearing a black shirt in an open vehicle in Kerala’s April weather is punishing, but this is symbolism that Surendran cannot forgo — devotees climb to the Sabarimala temple clad fully in black.

“Here comes a candidate who does not see religion or caste in people,” the pilot vehicle introduces the candidate. How does his politics, focussed entirely on the Sabarimala issue, square with this statement? “Muslims and Christians support our stand in large numbers. In fact, they run most businesses around the pilgrimage. We are winning this time,” he says.

A roadside shop along the convoy’s route reads: ‘Best quality beef sold here.’ Women and men alike in the Hindu-dominated panchayat shower petals and sing vanchipattu — folk songs that are usually sung during boat races. The shop beckons.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 9:21:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/left-right-congress/article26892295.ece

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