Sabarimala row: CPI(M) holds explanatory meetings

Thiruvananthapuram: Rattled by protests by opposition Congress, BJP and various organisations against the government’s decision to implement the apex court verdict on Sabarimala, the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala Tuesday launched ‘vishidhikarnam‘ (explanatory) meetings with participation of women.

The first of the meetings, to explain the government’s stand on the issue and steps taken by it to implement the Supreme Court verdict, was inaugurated at Pandalam in Pathnamthitta district by CPI(M) central committee member P K Sreemathy, MP.

P Sathi Devi, leader of the Janadhipatiya Mahila Association, said the state government has the duty to implement the top court verdict permitting women of all ages to worship at the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. Volunteers from Kudumbashree, a women’s empowerment and poverty eradication programme, have also been roped in for the meetings being organised in different places for ensuring ‘equal justice’ to all women.

Meanwhile, Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said government was with the believers and understood their sentiments. “We will not allow anyone to unleash violence in the name of devotees,” the minister said, adding the government will not go in for any confrontation.

As far as the government is concerned, it wants to provide all facilities to devotees visiting the shrine. Last month, Rs 100 crore was sanctioned from Kerala Infrastructure Financial Fund Board (KIFFB) for providing more facilities at Sabarimala, he said.

Attacking the Congress and BJP, he said the two parties had changed their stance only with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP should take out a long march to Parliament in New Delhi and not to Thiruvananthapuram, he said. At Erumeli, an important halting place for devotees en route to Sabarimala, P C George, an independent MLA in the state assembly, began a fast Tuesday morning to safeguard the traditions of the shrine.

George garlanded a statue of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at the hill shrine of Sabarimala, before commencing his fast. In the state capital, believers, including women, took out a march to the Raj Bhavan asking the state government to put pressure on the Centre to bring in a law.

Devotees have also begun collecting signatures from believers to be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind. Meanwhile, Vellapally Nateshan, General Secretary of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, an organisation of backward Ezhava community, said tension should not be created in the name of Hinduism.

Agitations over the Sabarimala verdict were a challenge to the rule of law, he said. The Congress, BJP and various Hindu organisations have launched protests demanding the state government file a review petition against the verdict. The Supreme Court in its verdict on September 28 had allowed entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala shrine.