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Sivagiri mutt's invitation to Modi sparks political storm

Last updated on: April 22, 2013 12:29 IST

After Kerala Labour Minister Shibu Baby John's meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi stirred a row, the Left has trained its guns on Sree Narayana Mutt at Varkala for inviting the BJP leader as chief guest at a function on April 24.

While Marxist veteran V S Achuthanandan has already made it clear he would boycott the function, it was the turn of the CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday to attack the Mutt for rolling out the red carpet to Modi.

Vijayan said the sanyasins should not have invited Modi to the spiritual centre founded by saint-reformer Sree Naryana Guru, who preached the message of "one caste, one religion and one God for humanity."

"Sivagiri is a symbol of secular spirituality. Inviting Modi there could be seen only as an attempt to turn it into a Hindu Mutt," Vijayan said at a meeting at Pathanamthitta.

The Mutt authorities, however rejected the criticism and maintaining that the doors of the ashram are open to all and the current controversy is unwarranted.

"Sivagiri Mutt has no politics and its tradition is to welcome all," said Swami Rithambharananda, who is president of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust.

The Mutt had also extended invitation to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi but they did not respond, he said.

Located about 30 km from Thiruvananthapuram, Sivagiri Mutt is a hallowed pilgrim centre for Sree Narayana Devotees.

The Mutt is celebrating the post-centenary of installation of "Vidyadevatha" idol at its premises on April 24.

Labour minister and RSP-B leader Shibu Baby John recently came under attack over his meeting with Modi.

Congress leaders especially took strong exception to John and an explanation was sought from him by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

John has since then clarified that he had discussed only developmental issues with Modi in good intention but admitted that the meeting should have been avoided, considering the political sensitivities involved.

Joining issue, CPI-M veteran and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan had said it was difficult to believe that John had met Modi without Chandy's knowledge.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that Kerala is witnessing political rows linked to Modi. A few years back, former CPI-M MP Abdullakutty incurred the wrath of the party leadership by praising the development model in Gujarat under Modi.

Abdullakutty later left CPI-M and joined the Congress and became an MLA.

Similarly, when LDF was in power a proposal to make Bollywood icon Amithabh Bachchan as brand ambassador for Kerala tourism had to he shelved as the veteran actor happens to endorse Gujarat tourism as well.

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