Sabarimala: Kerala CM slams attempts to disrupt 'unity'

Sabarimala: Kerala CM slams attempts to disrupt 'unity'

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated on Monday that the CPM-led state government was committed to implement the Supreme Court judgment, which allowed women of all ages entry into the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple.

Speaking with reporters here, he said the government was not against devotees, but would not succumb to pressure from groups that fuel a "politically motivated" agitation aimed at disrupting unity in the state.

The government-backed entry for women of all ages to the temple since it opposed all forms of discrimination, but had submitted in the Supreme Court that it would comply with any verdict from the court. “There is talk about a review petition now. How is filing a review plea possible when the verdict is in line with the government’s view? That would be against what the government said in the court,” he said.

The September 28 order of the five-judge Constitution bench and the state government’s decision to not seek a review have set off massive protests by women. The protesters contend that entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years would be against ritualistic traditions of the temple with a naishtika brahmachari (celibate) as deity, and favour restrictions as stipulated in a 1991 order of the Kerala High Court.

On Sunday, members of the tantri (head priest) family and the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam — former custodians of the temple — had turned down the chief minister’s offer for talks on the issue as they went ahead with a review petition against the judgment.

Learning from history

Vijayan highlighted people’s movements that fostered social reform in Kerala, how they challenged caste-based oppression, bolstered women’s empowerment and shaped the state’s progressive, inclusive ethos. He said Kerala’s post-flood recovery was marked by humanism and a sense of equality, both traced to the state’s unique social setting. “Entry of women in Sabarimala, the court judgment and the government’s stand should all be discussed in the context of this history of reformation,” he said.

Slamming the Opposition Congress' tilt towards “Hindu communalism”, he said the Congress and the BJP were engaged in double-speak. The Congress’ national leadership and the RSS had initially welcomed the top court’s judgment.   

With the government going ahead with preparations at the hill shrine ahead of the monthly pujas between October 17 and 22, BJP-affiliated organisations and Hindu outfits are set to intensify protests.

BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would launch a ‘Save Sabarimala Yatra’ from Pandalam to the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, from October 10 to 15. The Congress-led Opposition backs the devotees’ demand for the status quo.