Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala on Friday asked the State government to disband the Travancore Devaswom Board. He wanted the government to directly take up the responsibility of ensuring the smooth conduct of the Makaravilakku festival.

Mr. Chennithala also demanded the resignation of Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran who was “solely responsible” for the crisis during the peak Sabarimala season. He wanted the Chief Minister to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the implementation of the Sabarimala Master Plan in time for the next pilgrimage season.

Pilgrims were being forced to face all hardships and harassment, while the age old traditions and rituals were being questioned, he said.

The Minister and the Devaswom Secretary were in charge of the Devaswom administration for four crucial months after the earlier Board was dissolved. These four months should have been utilised to prepare for the upcoming pilgrimage season. But no steps were taken during this phase and after the new Board had come into being in June. The bickering between the TDB president and its members had virtually paralysed the functioning of the Board. This in turn had affected the administration of more than 1,200 temples that were managed by the TDB, Mr. Chennithala said.

The TDB president did not have any special powers. All the three members had equal powers, except that the

president would preside over the board meeting. However, the difference of opinion among the LDF constituents was being reflected in the board’s functioning. Matters had deteriorated to such an extent that the Board members had filed affidavits in the High Court against the president.

The TDB did not have a secretary, a law officer, a vigilance officer, while four posts of deputy commissioners were vacant. “The TDB had become a headless organisation,” he said.