The Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has, in a reasoned response, proposed a publicly controlled administrative set-up on the lines of that at the Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayur for the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple here.

Speaking its mind for the first time on the question of protecting the priceless objects that have been discovered in the secret vaults of the temple, the CPI(M) sought steps by the Central and State governments to document and assess the value of each of these objects and to preserve them with utmost care. These steps should be taken in line with the wishes of the faithful, and the verdict of the Supreme Court.

“It would be appropriate to have an administrative mechanism like that of the Guruvayur Temple with representatives of the former royal family in it to govern the Padamanabha Swamy Temple. The Guruvayur Devaswom has a representative of the Zamorin [the former ruler of the Malabar region] in it. The same could be done here, but in keeping with the wishes of the devotees and the verdict of the Supreme Court,” CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told a news conference here on Monday. The Tirupati and Guruvayur temples were functioning well with such administrative systems in place, he said.

Replying to a question on why the party had taken this long to come out with its views, Mr. Vijayan said: “We wanted to arrive at a correct position and did not want to discuss it just among ourselves. Our idea was to discuss it in the presence of our national a leadership and could do it only now.” CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat was present at the State Committee meeting here where the issue was discussed on Sunday.

Replying to a question, the State secretary said there would have to be legislation on the temple's administrative control once the Supreme Court gave its verdict. The Kerala High Court, he recalled, had given a verdict for change in the control of the temple, currently vested with the erstwhile Travancore royal family.

The case had gone to the Supreme Court following an appeal from the former royal family.

On the controversy over opening Vault B, Mr. Vijayan said the Supreme Court's criticism of resort to astrological rites to decide if the vault should be opened was significant. Nobody could be permitted to spread superstition. What was needed was a democratic debate on the question of protecting the valuables and administering the temple once the Supreme Court gave its verdict, he said.