Sabarimala row: Protests mount; CPI(M), Congress want dialogue before implementing SC verdict

PTI Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India Oct 07, 2018, 08.40 AM(IST)

File photo of Kerala's Sabarimala temple. (Source: Wikipedia commons) Photograph:( Others )

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The parties' stand comes in the backdrop of mounting protest by devotees of Lord Ayyappa across the state.

Both the ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress Saturday wanted a dialogue with the people concerned before implementing the Supreme Court verdict on entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple.

The parties' stand comes in the backdrop of mounting protest by devotees of Lord Ayyappa across the state.

Hundreds of devotees, mostly women, took part in the 'namajapa' (chanting the name of Lord Ayyappa marches in Kottayam and Malappuram districts against the LDF government's decision to implement the top court verdict without going for a review.

In a related development, minor violence marred the protest march taken out by activists of Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of BJP, to the house of

Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president A Padmakumar at Aranumla in Pathanamthitta district, where police chased them away.

According to Yuva Morcha, about 10 people, including its state president Prakash Babu, were injured in the melee.

Addressing devotees who gathered at Changanassery in Kottayam braving heavy rains, Sabarimala tantri (head priest), Kandararu Rajeevaru said everyone should stand together to preserve the traditions, rituals and faith of the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

A section of Ayyappa devotees staged a dharna Saturday in front of the TDB headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram, which manages the hill shrine.

Meanwhile, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said here that the government was ready to hold discussions with anybody on the matter.

Attacking the BJP and the Congress-led UDF over the issue, he said the opposition parties were trying to create "misunderstanding" among the faithful and "fishing in troubled waters".

He also said that the government's stand was to move ahead with mutual cooperation.

The ruling CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters in New Delhi that the apex court verdict should be implemented after discussions with everyone concerned.

"The consultation is for implementing the verdict. The government is seeking the support of persons concerned to implement it, but not by force," Balakrishnan said.

The Left party has no confusion over the issue, he said, adding that the move by 'vested interests' to turn the faithful against the government would be checked with the help of the believers themselves.

The CPI(M) Secretariat had Friday asked the government to hold discussions with those concerned on the matter.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran urged the Left government to convene an all-party meet to discuss the present development over the top court verdict.

He said his party would support the government if it files a review petition against the verdict, which lifted the restrictions imposed on the entry of women belonging to the age group of 10-50 in the hill shrine as part of its centuries-old tradition.

Ramachandran also said that the Congress is with the believers.

Protests over the entry of women in Sabarimala has gained momentum after the LDF government made it clear that it would not go in for a review of the Supreme Court verdict.

The opposition Congress and BJP had come out against the government stand and alleged that the Left government was trying to implement the court order in haste without taking into consideration the sentiments of the believers.

The Congress also alleged the BJP-RSS combine had adopted double standards on the issue and said if it was sincere in protecting the interests of believers, the NDA government at the Centre should come out with a legislation to overcome the verdict.

CMO sources here said members of the Pandalam royal family, the erstwhile rulers associated with the Sabarimala temple,have sought permission to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is now in New Delhi, Monday to discuss the issue.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.