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Gold smuggling case, Sabarimala shrine key issues in Kerala polls

ANI | Updated: Apr 05, 2021 17:29 IST


Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], April 5 (ANI): For the Kerala assembly elections to be held on April 6, political parties have highlighted the burning issues of the gold smuggling scam, Life Mission scheme, entry of women to Sabarimala shrine, among other contentious matters.
The campaign run-up to polling day has been fierce. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) top brass highlighted the gold smuggling case during their public rallies, Congress leaders also didn't let the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government get away with the issue easily.
The Kerala gold smuggling case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with the Enforcement Directorate and the customs department, pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels.
The matter had come to light after 30 kilograms of gold worth Rs 14.82 crores, smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage, was busted by customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5 last year.
The gold smuggling case gained national attention after the opposition in the state alleged the involvement of the Chief Minister's Office, as one of the accused reportedly had connections with the Principal Secretary to CMO who was removed from the post.
Another key issue in the Assembly polls is that of Sabarimala Temple. The issue of women's entry to the shrine is back in the limelight in the state, as both the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and BJP-led National Democratic Front (NDA) are using it as a major poll plank.
Vijayan-led LDF government said the state government will take a decision after consulting with all believers once the final verdict on the temple comes. Both the Congress and the BJP mounted pressure on the Left to clarify if they would submit a new affidavit in Supreme Court on Sabarimala.
The Ayyappa Dharma Sena (ADS) welcomed the promises made by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) in their election manifestos that they will bring legislation to protect the age-old traditions of Sabarimala.
The third prominent issue is that of the Life Mission scam.
The case pertains to spending the foreign funds for purposes other than those intended. Congress MLA Anil Akkara had earlier alleged that various middlemen including state representatives and government officials received huge sums of money as commission for implementing the project.
The case came to the spotlight after the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau named M Sivasankar, former principal secretary of Kerala Chief Minister's Office, as the fifth accused in the Wadakkanchery life mission scam case.
The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6. The counting of votes will be held on May 2. (ANI)

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