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Muslim League wants veg delicacies for Kerala school youth festival

Kozhikode: The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Monday termed as unfortunate the controversy over not serving non-vegetarian dishes during the recently concluded Kerala State School Youth Festival and urged the government to continue to serve vegetarian delicacies.

IUML leader K P A Majeed alleged that the demand for the the non-vegetarian dish came from the Left circles.

IUML, a key ally in the Congress-led UDF, accused the LDF government of attempting to create rift in the society over the issue.

Majeed in a Facebook post attacked the Kerala General Education Minister V Sivankutty, who had earlier assured that from next year onwards non-vegetarian dishes will also be served, and said the Left leader made such an announcement without discussing with anyone.

On Sunday, eminent culinary expert Pazhayidam Mohanan Namboothiri, who has been preparing and serving dishes to thousands of people every day at the food pavilions of the Kerala State School Youth Festival, had said that he will not be taking part in the gala in the coming years.

The controversy erupted after a section of netizens questioned the authorities for not serving non-vegetarian dishes for the youth festival and alleged that there was ‘Brahminical hegemony’ in the kitchen. The issue died down after Sivankutty assured that the government will try to serve both types of food from the next youth festival.

“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.

He said this will only encourage discussions creating rift in the name of caste and religion in the society.

“The government wanted to create a division in the society and encouraged such a discussion,” Majeed said.

However, Congress leaders V T Balram and others had on January 4 strongly criticised the serving of vegetarian dishes by a “Brahmin cook” and demanded the inclusion of non-vegetarian dishes for the festival.

Later, a few social media handles claiming to be “liberals” and some former journalists also raked up the issue triggering a major debate in the State.

Sivankutty, to put an end to the controversy assured that the government will consider including non-vegetarian dishes from next year.

Namboothiri had told reporters on Sunday that the “unnecessary controversy” of not serving non-vegetarian dishes hurt him a lot.

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.

The youth festival is known for its huge participation ranging from 30,000 to 40,000 every day.

For decades, lip-smacking vegetarian delicacies have been served among participating children, their teachers and parents at the food pavilions of the annual gala, known for its massive participation of children.

Kozhikode district bagged the top spot to become the champions of the 61st Kerala State School Youth Festival which concluded on Saturday.

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