New Delhi: In a departure from its previous stance on allowing women into Sabarimala temple, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Wednesday criticised the Kerala government for immediately taking steps to facilitate their entry “without taking the sentiments of the devotees into consideration”.
RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi said that while the Sangh respects the court’s judgment, the sentiments of millions of devotees, including women, cannot be ignored.
Backing the protests by several Hindu outfits against the SC verdict since Tuesday, Joshi said it was an obvious reaction to “forceful breaking of tradition”.
He also called upon all stakeholders, including spiritual and community leaders, to consider availing judicial options against the Supreme Court ruling that allowed women of menstruating age to enter the shrine of Lord Ayappa.
The stance is a complete U-turn from Joshi’s own 2016 statement, when he had said in a TV interview that barring women from Sabarimala made no sense even if it was in the name of a thousand-year-old custom. “The RSS wants to allow all women up to the limits set for men,” he had said.
The RSS stand at the time had contradicted the sangh and BJP’s Kerala units, who had positioned themselves as the defenders of the custom that has been ruled unconstitutional by the top court.
The Kerala government had earlier on Wednesday said it would implement the verdict in the coming pilgrim season itself.
A high-level meeting here of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Lord Ayyappa temple, also decided to make necessary arrangements for women pilgrims visiting the hill shrine when it opens for the annual pilgrimage season on October 16.
Vijayan said that as a government, it has to abide by the directives of the top court and make necessary arrangements for women devotees visiting the shrine.
"It is the responsibility of the government to implement the court order without any compromise. We will ensure that necessary arrangements are provided for women devotees in the coming season itself," he told reporters.
He also took exception to the TDB president's recent remark that they were not expecting a large number of women devotees at the shrine in the wake of the apex court order.
On the protest launched by various outfits against implementing the court verdict, the Chief Minister said no one has the right to prevent women devotees if they want to offer worship at the shrine.
"When the Supreme Court has taken a stand after considering all aspects of the matter, people have to accept the law of the land. The government is for implementing it," he added.