The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is for granting ‘national pilgrim centre’ status to Sabarimala and will include the same in its election manifesto, A.N. Radhakrishnan, party State general secretary, has said.

Mr. Radhakrishnan, who is also a member of the BJP election manifesto committee chaired by Murali Manohar Joshi, was speaking to reporters at Sabarimala on Wednesday.

‘Only demand’

Mr. Radhakrishnan said this was the only demand put forward by the State unit of the party for inclusion in the poll manifesto under preparation. He called for positive changes in tune with the changing times in the Sabarimala Master Plan. Every possible step should be initiated for providing foolproof pilgrim facility at South India’s largest pilgrim centre, where millions of Ayyappa devotees from across the country congregated during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.

BJP leader said the lackadaisical approach of the government had badly affected Sabarimala development, especially in providing basic facilities at the pilgrim centre and at major base camps. He said it was sad to hear allegations of pilgrims being fleeced at the hands of the temple administrative body itself at Sabarimala. Room rent at various donor houses and pilgrim shelters at the Sannidhanam had been increased drastically.

Mr. Radhakrishnan called upon the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to make various services, including the pilgrim shelters, free for the pilgrims. He said the TDB should stop granting permission to commercial eateries at Sabarimala by promoting Annadanam by various devotees’ organisations.

The TDB should plant the coconut tree saplings brought by devotees to Sabarimala in the landholdings of temples attached to it. He said the government and the TDB should implement the recommendations of the Justice Hariharan Nair Commission that inquired into the Pulmedu stampede.

  • ‘Pilgrims being fleeced by temple governing body’

  • ‘Implement Hariharan Nair panel recommendations’