As agitating devotees took to the streets in large numbers over the Sabarimala issue, the opposition BJP and Congress Wednesday joined their stir at Pamba and Nilackal, the entry points to the hill shrine. With the issue of women of all age groups being allowed into the Lord Ayyappa temple taking a political turn, the BJP and Congress have extended support to devotees who are protesting against the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s decision to implement the verdict and not file a review petition.
The base camps of Pamba and Nilackal witnessed intensified protests as the Lord Ayyappa temple opens for the five-day monthly pooja this evening, for the first time after the landmark top court verdict.
The Left front government termed the agitation as “politically motivated” and said it would be met politically. Police evicted members of tantri (head priest) family, including elderly women, and the Pandalam royals who were protesting at Pamba, reciting Ayyappa ‘mantras’.
After their eviction, a group of BJP leaders began the ‘namajapa’ (prayer) meet at the same venue. BJP state general secretaries, K Surendran, M T Ramesh and Shobha Surendran were among those who led the prayer meet.
They alleged that the police removed the members of the traditional tantri and royal families without any provocation. BJP state president Sreedharan Pillai observed a fast at the district headquarter, Pathanamthitta, as part of the saffron party’s second phase of agitation on the Sabarimala issue.
Thousands of party activists had marched to the state Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on October 15 against the LDF government’s decision to implement the court verdict disregarding sentiments of devotees. State Congress working president K Sudhakaran led party workers in the protest at Nilackal to express solidarity with believers.
State Devaswom Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, who held a review meeting at Sannidhanam (temple complex) on the three-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku-festival beginning from November 17, said the government would face the agitation politically.
“The government is only implementing the court order,” he told reporters at the Sannidhanam. He also alleged that the BJP-RSS was trying to create tension in the state and destroy the peaceful atmosphere for “political gains.”
“We know very well the agenda of RSS and BJP,” he said adding the LDF government had no intention to have any confrontation with the believers. The Minister also condemned the alleged attack on media personnel.
Vijayan on Tuesday had stated that there was an attempt to destroy the secular mind of people of Kerala in the name of Sabarimala issue. He had also criticised the Congress and said the party had joined hands with the RSS and BJP in the agitation.