BJP eyeing CPM leader heading Kerala temple body?

Party chief Amit Shah is learnt to have given a green signal and some feel a decision may come by the first week of November. PTI photo

Trying to make the most of the Sabarimala issue in Kerala, the BJP is now trying to bring CPM leader A Padmakumar into the saffron fold after he faced the wrath of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Padmakumar is the president of Travancore Devaswom Board, which looks after the affairs of temples in the state including Sabarimala, and is a former MLA from Pathanamthitta district— where the temple is located.

BJP sources said that Padmakumar would be a good catch for the BJP to embarrass the ruling CPM in Kerala, where the latter is trying to enforce the Supreme Court verdict lifting a ban on allowing women in the age-group of 10-50 years to enter the Sabarimala temple.

Party chief Amit Shah is learnt to have given a green signal and some feel a decision may come by the first week of November.

Shah is planning to visit Sabarimala when the temple re-opens for devotees as part of a BJP campaign to keep the issue alive till the Lok Sabha elections.

The party's state unit is also organising a 'Rath Yatra' in November.

Sources said that their is an attempt to bring Padmakumar to the party and field him in Pathanamathitta constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.

Currently, Congress holds the seat.

Padmakumar had initially deviated from the CPM and government stand, when he indicated that the Board may file a review petition against the verdict and later suggested that it will file a report on the situation.

A section of CPM leaders had earlier claimed that Padmakumar was indicating his political preferences by taking a stand against the government.

The BJP is trying to increase its footprint in the state and during Shah's recent visit, former chairman of Isro G Madhavan Nair and former Congress leader G Raman Nair, who headed Travancore Devaswom Board, joined the party among others.

The Supreme Court order resulted in protests by a section of devotees with the BJP and Hindutva organisations as well as state unit of the Congress on one side and the state government on the other side.

Earlier this month, when the temple was opened for devotees there were violent protests and some even prevented women entering the temple.

The BJP sees a political opportunity in the issue in Kerala, where it is yet to get a foothold in electoral politics.

It opened its account in the 2016 Kerala Assembly polls.

It is yet to have an MP from the state.

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BJP eyeing CPM leader heading Kerala temple body?

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