Sabarimala: BJP president faces conspiracy allegation

Sabarimala: BJP president faces conspiracy allegation

Sabarimala head priest Kandararu Rajeevarau gives 'prasad' to devotee, at Sabarimala temple in Sabarimala. PTI File photo

BJP Kerala President P S Sreedharan Pillai has stated that Sabarimala tantri (head priest) Kantararu Rajeevaru consulted him before announcing plans, on October 19, to close the temple if women of menstruating age entered it.

Pillai’s remarks, while addressing activists of the BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in Kozhikode on Sunday, have revived allegations of a BJP “conspiracy” to politicise the issue of women’s entry to the Ayyappa Temple.

In a video sourced from the event, Pillai is seen stating that he assured the tantri that closing the temple would not be in contempt of the Supreme Court's order. The Supreme Court had, on September 28, lifted restrictions on entry for women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple.


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During his address, Pillai is seen stating that the community of tantris “trusted” the BJP and him. He said when two women – Hyderabad-based journalist Kavitha Jakkala and activist from Kochi Rehana Fathima – were being escorted by the police to the temple, a “disturbed” tantri called and asked him if closing the temple would amount to defying the apex court's order. “I told him that he would not be alone and his action would not be termed contempt of court. I told him if a case was filed on those lines we, the protesters, will be accused before he was. When I said tens of thousands of people would support him, he said he just needed that assurance and made a firm decision that day,” Pillai said.

The tantri had stirred a controversy by saying he would close the temple and leave if the temple’s traditions were violated. His statement came on a day when police arranged elaborate security for the two women to trek to the sannidhanam, the area which houses the sanctum sanctorum. The tantri’s statement and a sit-in protest near the sannidhanam by priests and devotees forced the police to drop plans to escort the two women to the temple.

During the address, Pillai termed the Sabarimala controversy a “golden opportunity” for the party. He pointed out that when the “Marxists” moved a contempt of court petition on the matter, he was first accused and the tantri, the second.

Responding to questions on the revelation, the BJP president, also a lawyer, said the interaction was entirely about legal ramifications of protests against the entry of women to the temple. “He did not make the statement based on my directions; there’s no need to interpret it that way. Many people sought legal counsel from me and I have responded,” Pillai told reporters.