BJP activists take offence at Pappanji’s face ‘resembling PM’

Workers setting up ‘ Pappanji’ at the Parade Ground in Fort Kochi. This photo was taken on Thursday evening.

Workers setting up ‘ Pappanji’ at the Parade Ground in Fort Kochi. This photo was taken on Thursday evening.
| Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

A row erupted on Thursday noon after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists staged a protest at Parade Ground in Fort Kochi where the structure of ‘Pappanji’ that is burnt in effigy every New Year was being put together as part of the 39th edition of Cochin Carnival – an annual cultural-cum-sports revelry.

They alleged that the image of the face that was pasted atop the 60-foot-tall effigy closely resembled that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and hence they would not allow the burning of the effigy. A police team led by Mattancherry Assistant Commissioner of Police Arun Pavithran arrived at the spot and defused the situation. The organisers apologised and took down the image on the effigy’s face.

BJP district president K.S. Shyju alleged that it was a deliberate attempt to portray the Prime Minister’s face in an ’distorted’ manner in a people’s carnival that is referred to as among the biggest in Asia. Each year, the event sees participation of a large number of people from different communities. Putting up such an image to be be burnt in effigy is a disgrace to the carnival, people of Kochi and the entire country. The organisers agreeing to take down the image was a relief, he added.

Organisers’ stance

Former Mayor K.J. Sohan, who is adviser to the carnival committee said the image was a general one, of a bearded person, that was to be the outline of the face of the Papanji. Many coir ropes would dangle from it to portray the Papanji’s beard, while cotton would be used to highlight the beard. These materials would help burn the effigy, as is done every year. None of the organisers wanted to defame the Prime Minister, he said.

Another organiser said the carnival had always been a secular festival. The Papanji structure was under construction and its face was incomplete. “When faced with protest, we apologised. It should be noted that the organising committee has representation from different communities and they are affiliated to different political parties,” he added.

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