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BJP Stages Massive Rally to 'Save Sabarimala', Gives Kerala Govt 24 Hours to Come Up With 'Solution'

The mammoth foot march started last week from Pandalam. (PTI)

The mammoth foot march started last week from Pandalam. (PTI)

An array of senior NDA leaders , including actor-turned MP Suresh Gopi and Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena chief Thushar Vellappally, were at the forefront of the march.

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Thiruvananthapuram: Thousands of BJP activists on Monday marched to the secretariat to protest implementation of the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala shrine.

BJP activists, including a large number of women and children, marched to the administrative hub, chanting mantras of Lord Ayyappa and holding the garlanded pictures of the deity.

The mammoth foot march, which started last week from Pandalam, was in protest against the Left government's decision to implement the top court order “without considering sentiments of believers and Lord Ayyappa devotees”.

The BJP has also alleged that the attempt to implement the judgment was a "conspiracy" to destroy the hillock shrine, where lakhs of people from the country and abroad visit during the three-month-long pilgrim season beginning mid-November.

An array of senior leaders of NDA, including actor-turned MP Suresh Gopi and Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena chief Thushar Vellappally, were in the forefront of the march, which was led by BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai.

Pillai said if the state government failed to resolve the issue at the earliest, the BJP-NDA's agitation would take a new turn. "We will meet each villager in Kerala and chalk out a massive agitation plan to protect the Sabarimala Temple, its centuries-old traditions and the sentiments of Lord Ayyappa devotees," he said.

Claiming that the first phase of the Sabarimala stir was a major 'milestone,' the BJP said if the CPI(M)-led LDF government does not find a solution in the next 24 hours, the party-led NDA would chalk out a 'massive' agitation plan to reach their goal.

In another development, the Travancore Devaswom Board has convened a meeting of various stakeholders of the shrine including the Tantri (head priest) family, Pandalam royals and Ayyappa Seva Sangam on Tuesday.

The meeting, called to discuss the preparations of the three-month-long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season starting from November 17, was expected to discuss the recent apex court order also.

The shrine will reopen on Wednesday for monthly rituals. It would be closed on October 22 after the five-day monthly pooja of Malayalam month of 'Thulam'.

(With PTI inputs)

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