Kozhikode: After popular caterer Pazhayidom Mohanan Namboothiri backed off from future school arts festivals following the controversy surrounding vegetarian food, Muslim League leaders have come out against the Kerala government.
IUML MLA KPA Majeed slammed the education minister for declaring that meat will be served at the upcoming festivals. Former MLA KM Shaji said what was wrong with eating vegetarian food for 10 days if the food was good enough.
Shaji accused the ‘decision of CPM’ (to serve meat) as an attempt to communally polarise society and ‘garner support of Muslims’. "They should think about where they are taking society and what they are going to gain from it," he said.
Majeed blamed education minister V Sivankutty for aggravating the issue. "It's unfortunate that such a controversy came up with regard to the food served for the state school youth festival. The whole responsibility lies with the State government and the Education Minister. The food has been served for the youth festival for many years and there was never a controversy like this," Majeed said.
"Vegetarian food can be consumed by everyone but some people may not be able to eat non-vegetarian dishes and this is why the youth festival has only one kitchen serving vegetarian dishes. There is no need to divide the kitchen and it's impractical. The Minister, without discussing with anyone, declared that non-vegetarian dishes will be served and it's not right," the IUML leader said.
The discussion regarding vegetarian food at the state school Kalolsavam is nothing new in Kerala. This has been doing the rounds on social media for the past few festivals. Pazhayidom, who has won the bid continuously for the past 16 times, and the government, are slammed for serving vegetarian food in a predominantly meat-eating society. This time also, a couple of influencers took to Facebook to air their views. There were supporters of the existing system as well.
Congress leaders V T Balram was also among critics of serving of vegetarian dishes by a "Brahmin cook."
However, government sources and Namboothiri himself had earlier clarified that there were some practical difficulties in preparing non-vegetarian dishes in such huge quantities for events where the number of attendees cannot be ascertained in advance. More than 20,000 ate at the Kalolsavam everyday in Kozhikode, government had claimed.
When the media asked the minister about it, he surprisingly declared that meat will be served in the next edition of the festival. Though Pazhayidom initially said meat could be prepared if the government demands it, he later said he is backing out since the criticism has turned ‘personal’.
(With PTI inputs)