Sabarimala verdict: Kerala govt asks shrine board to implement SC order, BJP for ordinance to restore status quo
The BJP and the broader Sangh Parivar affiliates have called for a meeting on October 8 at Kochi to chalk out a strategy and are planning to move a review petition in the Supreme Court.Updated: Oct 01, 2018 19:12 IST
As chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday directed the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) to take necessary steps to implement the Supreme Court verdict opening Sabarimala temple for women of all ages, the Kerala BJP asked the government to bring an ordinance to restore the pre-judgment situation on lines of what Tamil Nadu did with ‘Jallikattu.’
The BJP and the broader Sangh Parivar affiliates have called for a meeting on October 8 at Kochi to chalk out a strategy and are planning to move a review petition in the Supreme Court. Though the BJP has not taken a firm stand on the verdict, state leaders said they will inform the central leadership about the “pent-up anger” in the state over it.
The apex court had opened the doors of Sabarimala to women of all ages in a 4-1 judgment on Friday, annulling the age-old tradition of the temple to deny the right of worship to women aged between 10 and 50 years.
“We really respect the Supreme Court verdict but at the same time, we can’t ignore feelings of crores of devotees. They are really upset. We want the government to promulgate an ordinance on the lines of Jallikattu in neighboring Tamil Nadu,” said BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai. He was referring to the bull-taming custom in Tamil Nadu which was banned by the Supreme Court but continued after protests by youth groups, leading to the state government approving an ordinance and subsequently passing a law allowing it.
He said the state government was in hurry to implement the verdict without consulting devotees’ bodies, the temple tantri (supreme priest) family and others, adding TDB president A Padmakumar had made it clear that no women from his family would go to the temple.
“The TDB president’s words show prevailing mood. In Kerala, a majority of women have made it clear they have no plan to gatecrash the temple. Communists are known atheists and in the name of court, they are stifling popular sentiments. The government will face stiff resistance if it moves unilaterally,” he said.
After supporting the verdict initially, the state Congress has also asked the TDB which runs the temple to file a review petition.
“We have to go by the apex court verdict. But at the same time, we have to see practical difficulties and social impact. The state government is playing a double game,” said leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy has also asked the government to move a review petition.
But the Left Democratic Front government reiterated that it will ensure a smooth entry for women when the temple opens for monthly pooja on October 18. Chief minister Vijayan chaired a high-level meeting in the state capital on Monday to review arrangements at the hilltop shrine.
“We have taken a number of steps to ensure smooth pilgrimage of women. Though there is no separate queue for women, seats will be reserved in buses and separate bathing ghats will be made for them. Women police will be deployed in large numbers at the hilltop and trekking sites,” said Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
He said virtual queues will be introduced on the lines of Tirupati.
“Separate queue is not practical because it needs more space. Only those who can brave winding queues should undertake the pilgrimage. And devotees will not be allowed to stay on temple premises after darshan,” he said.
Considered the second largest seasonal pilgrimage after Mecca, at least 3.5 to 4 crore pilgrims throng Sabarimala temple during the three month season starting in November.
Meanwhile, two little-known organizations, the Sabarimala Samrakshana Samiti and former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia’s Antharashtra Hindu Parishad have called for blocking of national and state highways in the state on October 2 demanding enactment of legislation to protect customs of Sabarimala. Though the Shiv Sena had called for a statewide shutdown on Monday, it later withdrew the call to seek support from other religious outfits.
All major parties in the state fear fringe outfits may hijack the emotional and religious issue.