Minister’s remark pushes Sabarimala into pollscape

Kerala’s Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran. File.   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran appeared to have made Sabarimala an active talking point in the Assembly election campaign on Thursday.

Mr. Surendran remarked that the events that had unfolded in the wake of the Supreme Court’s majority decision allowing women of all age groups to worship at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in 2018 had “saddened” everybody.

The State had witnessed widespread social upheaval and violent protests against the Left Democratic Front government’s bid to implement the judgment. Mr. Surendran’s remark appeared to have evoked images of the tumultuous days in several quarters.

Nair Service Society (NSS) general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair reacted sharply to Mr. Surendran’s comment. He said a passing expression of regret would not pull the curtains down on the highly emotive issue.

He dared Mr. Surendran to file a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court considering the 2018 decision. The political circumstances that prompted the Minister to express the regret were obvious. He should display his sincerity if he were true to his words. He should file a new affidavit in the apex court seeking a ban on the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 to the temple, Mr. Nair said.

The NSS said the LDF government had favoured the entry of women of all age groups to the Ayyappa temple in an affidavit filed in the apex court in 2007. The United Democratic Front government countermanded the sworn statement in 2012. It pointed out in a fresh affidavit that the earlier administration’s sworn statement in the matter contravened Rule 3(B) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship(Authorisation of Entry) Rule, 1965.

The LDF government which came to power in 2016, revived the first affidavit and paved the way for the SC order in 2018. The NSS said the LDF government had not factored in the sentiment of the Ayyappa devotees. It also attempted to impose the Supreme Court order without consultations and in a ham-fisted manner.

Chennithala’s stance

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said Mr. Surendran attempted to weep crocodile tears for Ayyappa devotees with an eye on the elections. Mr. Surendran and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan owed a public apology to Ayyappa devotees. The Congress had stated that Sabarimala was an election issue in the minds of the electorate.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 8:57:57 AM |

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