All-party meet fails to end Sabarimala deadlock

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All-party meet fails to end Sabarimala deadlock
New Delhi: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seen leaving after day-2 of Parliament's monsoon session, in New Delhi, on July 19, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

Thiruvananthapuram: November 15:  An all-party meeting called by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday ahead of the Sabarimala pilgrimage season starting on Friday failed to end the temple row, with the Congress-led UDF and the BJP walking out.

After the meeting, Vijayan met representatives of the Pandalam royal family, the Sabarimala Tantri and the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB).

The opposition accused Vijayan of sticking to his original stand that the government would abide by the apex court directive.

The all-party meeting was called soon after the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay its September 28 verdict which allowed all females, including those in the hitherto banned age group of 10-50, to pray at the temple.

The meeting ended after when United Democratic Front (UDF) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders announced they had to walk out as Vijayan insisted that his government had to abide by the apex court ruling.

Both in his opening and closing remarks, Vijayan insisted that the law of the land was above issues of faith.

“The state government is not at all prejudiced. The Supreme Court on two occasions has made its point very clear. Hence the state government has to abide by the verdict,” said Vijayan.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media: “This was a golden opportunity for the Kerala government to see things in perspective as the temple opens tomorrow (Friday). But Vijayan was adamant that the temple tradition will have to be breached.

“We just cannot agree to anything that affects the emotion of the Sabarimala devotees. So we felt there was no point in continuing with the meeting,” he said.

State BJP President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai the meeting was a waste of time.

“The meeting was just dramatics. Its script was done at the CPI-M headquarters. The attitude of the government is now clear. It is to thrash the devotees who come for the pilgrimage. We will continue with our protests,” said Pillai.

A fresh two-month festival season at Sabarimala starts on Friday at 5 p.m. It ends on January 20.

Speaking to the media, Pandalam royal family member K.P.S. Varma said there was no change in their stand on the entry of women into the temple.

“The meeting was very cordial and the CM presented his views. We said we will have to talk about it in detail,” said Varma.

Sabarimala Tantri Kanteraru Rajeeveru said his plea to women was: “Please do not come to the temple.”

Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra reached the temple town on Thursday morning to oversee the security arrangements. Around 5,000 police officials will be posted in and around the town.

According to the temple authorities, more than 800 women in the banned age group have already registered in the virtual Q online system and have taken their time for visiting the temple. (IANS)