BJP, Congress Ask Kerala Govt to Seek More Time From SC to Implement Sabarimala Order; Shrine Opens Tomorrow
Vijayan signalled he would stay firm on the stand of implementing the SC order by not inviting the state's law minister to the meeting after he suggested the government compromise .
Devotees wait for opening of the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala, Kerala. (File Image: PTI)
Thiruvananthapuram: The all-party meeting called by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to build consensus on the Sabarimala issue turned out to be a damp squib with the opposition staging a walk out.
Ramesh Chennithala, chief of the Congress’ Kerala unit, said the government refused to listen to their demands. “We are walking out as CM is adamant on his stand. All party meeting was a farce, it’s unfortunate that the CM spoiled a golden chance to bring peace in Sabarimala,” he said.
Vijayan said the government has no prejudice but is bound to implement the Supreme Court order. “We are not rigid in this matter as alleged by opposition. I appeal to devotees to understand the fact that the government has to obey the Supreme Court order,” Vijayan said.
The BJP claimed that the CPM government is prejudiced. "The CM did not respond to five points of the BJP. The NDA will think of extending the agitation outside Kerala," said state BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai.
The meeting, attended by all major political parties, comes just a day before the shrine opens for the Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season.
The government’s options are limited as it is duty bound to follow the Supreme Court order and facilitate the entry of women into the temple, while the opposition BJP and Congress, who are leading protest marches to save the “temple’s tradition and customs” show no signs of relenting.
The Vijayan government had signalled it would stay firm on its stand of implementing the SC order by not inviting the state's law minister to the meeting after he suggested that women not be allowed to enter the shrine this pilgrimage season as a compromise.
The Congress and the BJP had also given an indication of the stand they took at the meeting on Monday itself, soon after the Supreme Court agreed to hear review petitions against its September verdict in open court on January 22.
Welcoming the top court’s decision, Congress’s Kerala chief Ramesh Chennithala said the SC also understands the sentiments of the devotees and the Kerala government has to “act prudently now and not implement the decision during the upcoming two-month long pilgrim season."
The BJP, too, said the Supreme Court had taken a good step in deciding to hear the review petitions, and the party’s ideological mentor – RSS – has warned there would be more protests if anyone tries to “break the rituals”.
Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Rahul Easwar on Thursday also said women who wish to enter the temple would have to go through them and promised to guard the temple for the next 60 days, that is the duration of the pilgrimage season.
Vijayan will also hold meetings with representatives of the Pandalam Palace and the tanthri family as his government hopes to avoid a repeat of the violent protests witnessed outside the Lord Ayyappa shrine when it opened for six days in October. All political parties, the tanthri family and Pandalam palace representatives agreed to attend the meetings.
After the all-party meet, a meeting of the Travancore Devaswom Board has also been scheduled on Thursday to finalise the plan of action. "The board has sought legal opinion on the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday and we will discuss this at the meeting," board president A Padmakumar said.
Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said the government would go by the Supreme Court order. "We hope a consensus could be evolved in the all-party meet. The government will urge the other parties not to politicize the matter and create tension,'' he said.
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