KOZHIKODE: Visit Viewed As Party Attempt To Woo Ezhava Community

In a move pregnant with political message and symbolism, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah chose the Sreekanteswara temple to offer prayers during their visit to Kozhikode to attend the BJP national council meeting.

The visits assume significance as the temple established by Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most im portant places of worship for the Ezhava community in north Kerala.

The visit by these top BJP leaders to the temple is viewed as part of an attempt by the party to reach out to the democratically sizable Ezhava community in the state on its own.

While Modi visited the temple at 9.15am on Sunday, Amit Shah had visited the temple on Thursday evening.The visits came at a time when chinks have emerged in the BJP-Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) alliance in the state, with SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan stating that BDJS workers are dissatisfied over the non-fulfilment of promises made by the BJP when it entered into an alliance during last assembly election.

BJP had been trying to widen its traditional support base in the state and break its image of being a party of forward caste Hindus. The party had roped in BDJS and tribal leader C K Janu’s Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha to the NDA fold during the previous assembly election. On arrival, the Prime Minister was welcomed with `purna kumbham’ at the temple. Modi offered prayers before Lord Shiva, the deity.A Sarvaishwarya pooja was done in his name after which he received the prasadam.

“The pooja was conducted by the priest by pronouncing the name and PM’s birth star Anizham (as per Malayalam calendar),” said M Sreekumar, member of the temple administrative committee.

Modi also spent 10 minutes at the `guruvihar’ dedicated to Sree Narayana Guru. The priests at the temple also recited `Daiva Dasakam’, the famous prayer penned by Sree Narayana Guru. President of the temple committee P V Chandran presented a portrait of Sree Narayana Guru to the Prime Minister, who spent around half-an-hour at the temple.

The installation of the Shivalinga at the temple was conducted by Sree Narayana Guru in 1910.

However, BJP leaders sought to discount a political angle to the temple visit.”Sreekanteswara temple is one of the most famous temples in Kozhikode and the prime minister of fered prayers there. There is no need to attach political associations to it,” said BJP state general secretary M T Ramesh.