Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah should explain his comment about the southern state that he made at a recent poll rally, reported PTI.

On Saturday, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader had said at a rally in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district that only his party could keep the state safe.

“There is Kerala near you [Karnataka],” Shah had said, according to ANI. “I don’t want to say much. If you want to keep Karnataka safe, only BJP can do this. Only a BJP govt in Karnataka, under the leadership of PM Modi, can do this.”

The home minister did not explain what he meant by the reference to Kerala. However, he made the comments in the backdrop of the Centre’s crackdown on Islamist outfit Popular Front of India, which was banned for five years last year. The organisation was formed in Kozhikode in Kerala in November 2006.

Responding to Shah’s remark, Vijayan said on Sunday that Kerala is an oasis of peace and secularism, and that the Sangh Parivar’s agenda has found little traction in the state, reported The Hindu.

“In Kerala, there is no Sree Rama Sena, who ransacked a 150-year-old church during the 2021 Christmas season in Mangaluru,” Vijayan said. “That must be perturbing for the BJP.”

He added that the BJP government in Karnataka had stoked communal divisions for political dividends by demonising minorities to turn public attention away from increasing poverty and hunger, the rising cost of living, and the unjustifiable concentration of wealth in an elite few.

“Our bordering areas in Karnataka, including Mangaluru, have witnessed many communal violence,” Vijayan said, reported PTI. “A 150-year-old church in Chikmagalur was attacked by the Sangh Parivar in 2021 Christmas season. Christians and other minorities have faced many such attacks from Sangh Parivar. But is this the situation in Kerala? No one faces any issues in Kerala because of their faith.”

The chief minister said that the BJP had become a destructive force for the country. “If one more chance is given to BJP, it will be catastrophic for this country,” he said, according to PTI.